A Westminster couple charged with more than 30 counts each related to child abuse appeared in Carroll County Circuit Court on Tuesday for a criminal motions hearing related to their case.
Melissa Trapani, 46, and Paul Trapani, 56, both of the unit block of Landau Drive, were charged with multiple counts of child abuse, assault and neglect of a minor. Melissa Trapani is scheduled for a criminal court trial beginning Jan. 27. Paul Trapani's trial is scheduled to begin Feb. 27, according to electronic court records.
The Trapanis were indicted in 2015 after a house check by the Department of Social Services and the Carroll County Humane Society, as well as further investigation, found that the Trapani's allegedly kept six children in unlivable conditions. As a result, two of the children were in therapeutic care and were described as having animal-like behaviors in a March bail review.
Paul Trapani is expected to enter a plea agreement to six counts of neglect of a minor, his attorney Judson Larrimore said during the criminal motions hearing Tuesday morning before Judge Fred Hecker. Depending on plea negotiations, Trapani could take a plea to the six counts as soon as Feb. 27, the first day scheduled for his trial.
Part of the negotiations include what charges would be entered as nolle prosequi, or abandoned by the state, as part of the agreement.
If a plea is not reached, Larrimore is expected to bring up motions regarding the language around neglect in Maryland code.
Unlike her husband, Melissa Trapani is expected to go to a trial, but it will be an unusual trial. She was evaluated for competency to stand trial, and during the motions hearing, Hecker ruled that she was able to do so. But the defense and the state will have to make arguments for whether she is criminally responsible for her actions.
Responsibility is expected to be argued during a bench trial Jan. 27, but her attorney, William Welch, said his client will only go forward with a bench trial if it is before one of the four sitting Carroll County Circuit Court judges or retired Judge Michael Galloway.
Hecker told Welsh that while a judge had not yet been assigned, he did not think that would be an issue, as no visiting judge had been scheduled to come for that trial.
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