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Lawyer challenges credibility of Detroit boy found in dad's basement

Charlie Bothuell V

CBS Detroit

DETROIT - A defense lawyer attacked the credibility of a 13-year-old boy who couldn't be found for 11 days last summer, repeatedly questioning on Wednesday why he failed to emerge from his basement despite visits by police to the Detroit home.

Charlie Bothuell acknowledged that he liked the result of daily rigorous workouts on his overweight body, despite claims by prosecutors that the exercise demanded by his father and stepmother was extreme and unreasonable.

"I was just happy that my body looked great," Charlie said.

A judge must decide whether there's enough evidence to send Charlie's father, also named Charlie Bothuell, and Monique Dillard-Bothuell to trial on charges of torture and child abuse.

They have denied any abuse, although the elder Bothuell told state investigators last year that he had struck his son with a PVC pipe.

The boy, then 12, has testified three times. He has said he was sent to the basement by his stepmother as punishment for interrupting a workout last summer. He was expected to do hundreds of push-ups, sit-ups and jumping jacks, 25 arm curls with a 25-pound weight and thousands of revolutions on an elliptical machine.

Police finally found the boy in the cluttered basement during a highly publicized 11-day search last June. The discovery triggered an investigation of his father and stepmother.

Defense attorney Shawn Smith said Charlie was "hiding," not lost. He noted that police dogs were in the home at one point, yet Charlie never emerged from behind a barrel.

"You didn't say, 'I'm right here. Please help me,'" Smith said.

Charlie said he left the basement to get food or use an upstairs bathroom only when no one was home.

"I wouldn't say paralyzed with fear, but scared, yeah," he said about leaving the basement.