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Gravelles guilty

Norwalk Reflector Staff • Oct 28, 2015 at 3:45 PM

Jurors found Sharen and Michael Gravelle guilty this morning on four of the eight felony charges in the "caged kids" trial that lasted nearly a month.

The Gravelles also were found guilty on seven misdemeanor charges.

This was the third complete day of deliberations in the trial of the couple, who were charged with forcing some of their 11 special needs children to sleep in homemade bunk beds with chicken wire that resemble cages. Testimony included accusations that the Clarksfield Township couple had the children stay in the enclosures for fighting, wetting their beds and getting out of the structures to use the bathroom at night.

The jurors worked on the case for 10 1/2 hours Thursday and had lunch brought to Huron County Common Pleas Courthouse the last two days, administrator Linda Stower said.

She didn't know if they deliberated through lunch. "It's up to them if they work or not," Stower added.

The court administrator typically waits until later in the day to find out how long the jurors expect to stay.

The Gravelles, of 2330 St. John Road, each face eight third-degree felony counts of child endangering, eight first-degree misdemeanor counts of child endangering and another eight misdemeanors on child abuse. If convicted, the couple faces one to five years in prison and a maximum fine of $10,000 for each felony and up to six months behind bars and a $1,000 fine on each misdemeanor.

The endangering charges against the Gravelles accuse the couple of putting some of their children at substantial risk of harm to their mental health.

Sharen's defense attorney Ken Myers said in his closing argument Tuesday the couple "did extraordinary things to address extraordinary behavior" such as fetal alcohol syndrome, a disorder that involves eating nonfood items and nighttime wanderings.

"They had an obligation to contain these kids," Myers told the jury, noting what the Clarksfield Township couple did is not considered "normal parenting."

Authorities removed all 11 children from the Gravelles' home Sept. 9, 2005 after a Huron County social worker visited the couple and saw the cages earlier that same day. Social worker Jo Johnson testified Nov. 28 that the structures reminded her of slave quarters.

The children have been in several foster homes since being removed and the couple lost custody in March.

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