GLOUCESTER, Va. (WAVY) - A Gloucester couple entered a guilty plea to felony abuse charges Tuesday, for leaving their daughter in a makeshift cage for days.
Brian and Shannon Gore also submitted an Alford plea on aggravated malicious wounding charges, which means they know the evidence would likely prove them guilty.
Investigators said two years ago, they found the couple's then 6-year-old daughter nude, laying in her own feces, suffering from bed sores, and so hungry, detectives saw her eating the flaky skin from her forehead. She weighed only 16 pounds, which is the average weight of a 6-month-old.
The child, who is now 8, was expected to testify via closed circuit TV. The trial began Tuesday with jury selection, which proved to be a lengthy, emotional process.
The court had a pool of approximately 175 potential jurors, but finding people in the group that could promise to form an unbiased view in this case proved daunting as the day progressed.
In an exclusive interview with former Gloucester Commonwealth's Attorney Bob Hicks Tuesday, he told WAVY.com, "I would be interested to see if they can get a jury. I hope so." He said it would be difficult because of the extensive media attention.
Late in the afternoon, news came that the Gores would be changing their plea from not guilty to guilty on the felony child abuse charges. They waited until late in the day, when it became evident they would not be able to seat a jury.
The Gores attorney Ron Smith spoke with WAVY.com following the hearing.
"Shannon's decision [to plead guilty] was based on two factors; one, she has been telling me for several days that she didn't want her daughter coming here to be in court. The second was more about today. Seeing jurors answer questions and know that they had heard about this case and that they knew facts from the news… she just feels like there would be a more meaningful sentencing by a judge."
WAVY.com spoke with several of the potential jurors on their way out of court Tuesday.
"I'm glad I was here, I'm glad I did my civic duty and I'm glad things worked out the way they have," one said.
Another told 10 On Your Side he thinks he could have been impartial in the case.
The Gores will be return to the Gloucester courthouse on June 10 for sentencing. Their sentences will be consecutive and they will not have parole.
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