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Trial pushed back for five people accused of brutally abusing autistic woman in Amite

The Advocate - 8/9/2018

Aug. 09--The criminal case against five people accused of brutally mistreating an autistic woman in Amite was continued in state court Wednesday, with the trial now scheduled for October.

The trial was previously set for Aug. 13.

The case was continued at a pretrial hearing Wednesday in response to requests from defense attorneys, said Autumn Payton, spokeswoman for the Tangipahoa Parish District Attorney Scott Perrilloux.

Perrilloux filed felony charges two years ago against Terry Knope II, Raylaine Knope and their children Taylor Knope, Jody Lambert and Bridget Lambert. The five are accused of holding a 22-year-old relative captive for a year, forcing her to live in an outdoor cage in squalid conditions.

Tangipahoa deputies began investigating the case in June 2016 after someone reported the abuse. Deputies found the woman malnourished, covered in insect bites and terrified that deputies would arrest her for her own mother's death -- after she had been forced to eat her mom's ashes -- according to state court records.

Sheriff Daniel Edwards said at the time the five had threatened to kill the woman if she tried to escape and also marketed her for sex.

A pretrial hearing will be held Sept. 11, and the trial is scheduled for Oct. 22 in state court. But Payton said the trial could be pushed back again, especially considering federal charges recently filed against the defendants, which could take precedence over the state case.

Federal prosecutors announced their charges last week, but Perrilloux said then that he would press forward with his own case nonetheless.

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