HAMILTON, Ohio (AP) -- A 12-year-old girl who authorities say was locked in a basement for weeks testified Tuesday that she was held under cold showers, slapped, spanked and fed peanut butter sandwiches for punishment.
The girl, her older sister and a social worker were among those who testified on the first day of the trial for Shawn and Joanna Blackston, the 12-year-old's father and stepmother. The trial is to continue Wednesday in a Butler County court.
Shawn Blackston, 40, and Joanna Blackston, 37, of Middletown, have pleaded not guilty to a misdemeanor count of child endangering for allegedly locking the girl in the basement as punishment. The couple could get up to six months in jail if the judge finds them guilty, a court official said.
The girl clutched a teddy bear and rocked in a chair as she spoke in court, The Hamilton JournalNews reported.
She told the court that she had to ask to use an upstairs bathroom, and her parents would give her two or three pieces of toilet paper. She acknowledged that she sneaked out of the house, found food in a neighbor's trash can and returned to the basement.
The girl's older sister, identified by The Cincinnati Enquirer as Shawna Blackston, 18, testified earlier that the 12-year-old was kept in the family's basement to protect younger children in the home after the 12-year-old threatened to hurt them. The younger girl was not identified.
The older sister also told the court that the younger girl was forced to sit on a porch in a thunderstorm for about 30 minutes and was "soaked," the JournalNews reported.
Attorneys for the Blackstons have described a different situation at the home. They said the 12-year-old wouldn't obey her parents, destroyed her clothes and other items in the basement, and once threatened to kill her 2- and 3-year-old siblings, the JournalNews reported.
The parents' attorneys did not immediately return calls for comment Tuesday from The Associated Press.
A Butler County Children Services caseworker testified that the girl was underweight when authorities found her in the basement this summer after an anonymous tip alleged child abuse.
In an opening statement, prosecutor Kim Schneider showed a picture of the 12-year-old girl after she was removed from the Blackstons' custody. Schneider said the picture showed a 5-foot-tall girl with sunken eyes, weighing 74 pounds. She said the girl has since gained 32 pounds.
Schneider asked the judge to hold the Blackstons responsible for the girl's condition when she was found.
The older sister testified that her sister was never denied food but was given peanut butter sandwiches or leftovers for dinner while the rest of the family ate carryout food, the Enquirer reported.
The 12-year-old is in foster care, as are five other children who lived in the home, according to a court official. The children's ages ranged from 2 to 15.