A Douglas County judge Thursday scheduled separate trials for two Illinois parents accused of tying up and blindfolding two of their children, ages 5 and 7, outside the west Lawrence Walmart in June.
District Judge Paula Martin scheduled an Oct. 22 trial for Deborah Gomez, 44, and another trial Nov. 5 for Adolfo Gomez, 52, after both defendants pleaded not guilty.
Martin said the trials would need separate jury pools.
Prosecutors accuse the couple of using inhumane corporal punishment to tie up the two younger children. They face two counts of felony child abuse each.
A shopper at Walmart, 550 Congressional Drive, saw a child blindfolded and bound near the vehicle and called police June 13 because she believed it could be a possible child abduction.
The couple and their five children had stopped at Walmart when their Chevy Suburban broke down near Lawrence. The family was traveling from Northlake, Ill.
Lawrence police testified at a preliminary hearing earlier this week that one of the couple’s children and Adolfo Gomez said in interviews that the younger children were tied up and blindfolded because the family believed the kids were possessed by demons.
Adolfo Gomez had told police the two younger children were acting out toward the older children in the vehicle during Bible studies.
Police also said the family members had sold their belongings and were driving to Arizona because the parents believed demons were in their home in suburban Chicago and that the world was ending.
Officers also said the 7-year-old girl indicated she asked to be tied up, while the boy said Adolfo Gomez told him not to remove his bindings.
Prosecutors also allege the children’s health could have been in danger because of the conditions inside the vehicle, including trash, rotting food and bottles of urine. The parents each face five misdemeanor counts of child endangerment. Adolfo Gomez is also charged with one count of felony obstruction after officers used a Taser to subdue him.
Angela Keck, a defense attorney for Deborah Gomez, said Thursday her client might ask for a later trial date depending on a pending psychological evaluation and further information from a private investigator in the case.