When a little girl was questioned about a beating that sent her younger sister to the hospital for six weeks, she told an investigator that "bad daddy" and "bad mommy" hit the children with belts and wires, according to a video played Tuesday in Stanislaus County Superior Court.
The child had just turned 6 when she participated in a specialized interview with a child advocate in Fresno on March 1, 2007. She said her little sister was lying facedown and not wearing any clothes as her father, Terry Indula, and his wife, Chandy Indula, delivered blow after blow.
The child, who is referred to as Jane Doe 2 in court, demonstrated on a doll, pointing to the backs of its legs and buttocks. She insisted that her story was true. And when asked how she knew that her little sister had been hurt by her parents, she offered this proof.
"Uh, because I saw them do it," the child said.
Terry Indula, 28, and Chandy Indula, 29, both of Modesto, are at the center of a case of child abuse that is working its way through the legal system. Prosecutors began presenting evidence to support six felony charges when a preliminary hearing began in February.
They are expected to return to court Tuesday to argue that the Indulas should stand trial for torture, mayhem, inflicting great bodily injury on a child and permitting two children to suffer under circumstances likely to cause great bodily injury.
Defense attorneys are expected to argue that lesser charges are warranted, particularly because the Indulas expressed concern for the welfare of the children, cooperated with authorities and allowed two searches of their west Modesto home.
911 called when breathing stops
The Indulas called 911 about 1 p.m. Nov. 11, 2006, because the 3-year-old, referred to as Jane Doe 1 in court, was not breathing.
The couple told investigators they tried to revive the child by placing her in a cold shower. Her body temperature was 79 degrees when she was rushed to Doctors Medical Center in Modesto. Later, she was airlifted to Children's Hospital & Research Center Oakland, where she underwent two surgeries.
A doctor told the court that the little girl had too many bruises and lacerations to count, as well as permanent red and white blotches on the back of her thighs. Investigators say they believe the girls were hit with a variety of objects, including electrical cords, a belt and a broom handle.
According to Detective Eric Jones of the Modesto Police Department, Chandy Indula told investigators that her husband hit his daughters because they reminded him of his first wife.
Chandy Indula also talked of "whooping" the older girl with a cord, Jones said, but said she stopped because she knew it was wrong. She told the detective she did not intervene when Terry Indula disciplined his daughters.
According to Jones, Terry Indula said Jane Doe 1 had been to the doctor only five days before she was rushed to the hospital. He said the doctor told Chandy Indula to apply Neosporin to bruises on the child's thighs and buttocks.
The doctor told another detective he recommended an ointment for pink eye; he did not recall bruising on the buttocks and thighs, Jones said.
The two sisters were placed in foster care in Fresno. The placement of the Indulas' two other children, who were an infant and a toddler when their parents were arrested 20 months ago, is confidential.
Terry Indula is held in lieu of $1 million bail and Chandy Indula is held in lieu of $250,000 bail.
Bee staff writer Susan Herendeen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2338.