- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 14, 2014

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) - Prosecutors say they’re not cutting a plea deal for a southern Arizona couple accused of imprisoning the woman’s three daughters inside their Tucson home.

Fernando Richter, 34, and his wife, Sophia, appeared Tuesday in Pima County Superior Court for a status conference where prosecutors said no deal is on the table.

Sophia Richter, 32, wept throughout the brief court appearance in which a judge also issued a gag order barring out-of-court comments by people involved in the case.

The couple pleaded not guilty last month to charges of kidnapping and child abuse.

They’re accused of keeping the three girls - ages 12, 13 and 17 - locked in their rooms during a three-month period that ended Nov. 26, when police discovered the girls’ alleged captivity after the two youngest girls escaped and called 911 from a neighbor’s house.

Investigators said the girls escaped through the window of the bedroom they shared after their stepfather tried to break down the door to their room as he brandished a knife.

Tucson police later discovered the 17-year-old was being held separately from her sisters in another room. The three girls were malnourished and dirty and told officers they hadn’t taken a bath in up to six months.

The siblings remain in state custody but are living together.

Fernando Richter, the girls’ stepfather, also is charged with aggravated assault on two of the girls and assaulting a corrections officer in jail.

The couple’s next scheduled court hearing is Feb. 10.

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