Deliberations begin in child rape case with absent defendant

PORT ORCHARD, Wash. -- Jurors have started deliberations in a Washington child rape case — and they have never seen the defendant.

The Kitsap Sun reports that deliberations began Tuesday in the trial of 45-year-old Melford Warren Jr., who was tried in absentia after multiple courtroom outbursts.

Warren faces 22 criminal counts, including child rape. Prosecutors say he terrorized, isolated and assaulted his family, which includes two women and their dozen children.

Defense attorney Adrian Pimentel questioned some of the children's credibility and reminded the jury that they must decide each charge separately.

Although a psychologist found Warren competent to stand trial, the judge found his disruptions jeopardized his ability to receive a fair trial. Pimentel visits Warren's jail cell twice daily but says his client "does not choose to be here."