SAN FRANCISCO (CBS/AP) Three of the four defendants charged with savagely beating, starving and shackling a 16-year-old boy in a Northern California home pleaded guilty Friday as part of a plea deal.
Michael Schumacher, his wife Kelly Layne Lau, and the victim's then-legal guardian Caren Ramirez will serve at least 30 years in prison for more than a dozen felonies, including use of a deadly weapon and causing great bodily injury to a child.
As part of the plea agreement, prosecutors withdrew a charge of torture, which could have led to life in prison for the three.
The fourth defendant, Anthony Waiters, the couple's neighbor, has pleaded not guilty and awaits trial next week on aggravated mayhem, torture and false imprisonment charges.
According to prosecutors, Ramirez brought the teenager to live in the home of Schumacher and Lau in Tracy, Calif, about 50 miles east of San Francisco, in January 2008.
For nearly a year the young boy was held captive, and he told a grand jury that he had often been shackled, had gone without food for long stretches, and had been beaten and branded with a scalding hot baseball bat, according to The San Francisco Chronicle.
He claimed that the defendants would openly talk about how they were going to torture and kill him for such menial things as forgetting to water the lawn the day or failing to properly clean the bathroom.
"I remember they said they would try to, like cut me up and everything and throw me in the delta, and one time he, Michael, asked Kelly for a syringe so he could, like, pump air into my veins and stuff like that," the teen told the grand jury.
Luckily, the boy was able to escape Dec. 1, 2008, after he found a key to unlock his shackles, used a trampoline to jump over an 8-foot wall in the back yard of the home and limped into a fitness club looking emaciated and bruised, according to the Chronicle.