GLOUCESTER, Va. (WAVY) - Next week, one of the most gruesome child neglect cases in Hampton Roads history will play out in a Gloucester County courtroom.
Brian and Shannon Gore face felony child neglect and aggravated malicious wounding charges for keeping their then 6-year-old daughter locked up in a crib made into a cage. Investigators say the Gores starved their daughter who was found in April 2011.
Shannon Gore's attorney Ron Smith is calling for the victim, now 8 years old and living with foster parents, to testify.
Documents show the child has gained weight since the traumatic incident. Smith said the child testifying in court would show the injury was not permanent, and could help as a "mitigating" factor in sentencing.
Initially, Gloucester Circuit Court Judge Bruce Long denied the child's testimony in order to keep her identity from being released.
However, Smith said he had a Constitutional right to question the young girl.
Upon further reflection, Long reversed his earlier decision, writing, "The victim must appear in court. The right to do so is constitutionally protected... outweighs any claim by the victim of a right to privacy."
Long also noted not allowing the child to testify could lead to an appeal.
"No one wants this child to go through a trial. I give you my word, if the Commonwealth's Attorney drops the request for a jury trial then I will drop my request for the daughter's presence in court," Smith told 10 On Your Side in a phone interview.
Smith wants the judge to decide the case based on a foundation of law and not on the predicted emotion from a jury.
Gloucester Commonwealth's Attorney Holly Smith has not returned any of WAVY.com's phone calls and was not available for an interview Wednesday.
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