4:19 p.m. June 11, 2008
MURRIETA – An Aguanga man was found guilty Wednesday of imprisoning and torturing members of his 19-children, three-wife family, who prosecutors said were at times forced to live in padlocked rooms without food and faced beatings with switches, water hoses and extension cords.
The six-man, six-woman jury took less than a day to convict Mansa Musa Muhummed on seven counts of torture – each one carries a potential life sentence – a dozen counts of willful injury to a child, four counts of inflicting corporal injury on a spouse and two counts of false imprisonment.
He is scheduled to be sentenced Aug. 11.
The prosecution presented evidence that Muhummed, 55, beat and routinely denied food to his three “wives” – one legal and two not – and most of the 19 children they had between them while keeping all of them essentially prisoner at their Aguanga compound.
In her closing argument, Deputy District Attorney Julie Baldwin told the jury that the defendant played “mind games” to keep the children off-balance psychologically so that they would not turn against him.
“They in a way could not trust each other,” Baldwin said. “It furthered their loyalty to their father.”
Baldwin told the jury that the defendant beat the children on their hands, knuckles and feet with a boat oar, extension cords, switches, water hoses, “basically anything he could get his hands on.”
According to Baldwin, Muhummed also mistreated the children under his care when the ever-growing family lived in other cities in Southern California.
Baldwin reminded the jurors of how the children, now mostly grown, testified of beatings that left some of them permanently scarred and injured.
Sharon Boddie weighed 56 pounds when her father was arrested in 1999. She was 18 years old at the time.
“When she was 6, the defendant burned the top of her ear with a match,” the prosecutor said. “The defendant threatened to cut her arm with a machete.”
Muhummed's attorney told the jury that his client disciplined his children, but never caused great bodily injury or imprisoned them or his adult partners.
Defense attorney Peter Morreale said the evidence did not back up claims of a nightmare existence at the hands of a sadistic monster.
“There really is no evidence of great bodily injury,” Morreale told the jury.
The seven torture counts were filed against Muhummed because seven of the 19 children were underweight and underfed because of Muhummed's actions, Baldwin said outside court.
When he was arrested on April 6, 1999, Muhummed lived in the main part of the Aguanga house with his then-legal wife, Marva Boddie. The two other “wives,” Adrienne Easter and Cowan, lived with their children in garages on the property, allegedly behind doors nailed shut and padlocked.
The case took years to come to trial because of numerous motions filed by Muhummed, who served as his own attorney for a time.
Muhummed, born Richard Boddie and a convert to Islam, testified that he did not beat the women and children.
“I never went into the garage to beat no one,” he said.
Muhummed had 13 children with his first wife, two stepchildren and a daughter with Cowan and two stepchildren and a child with Easter.
Marva Boddie, who remarried and is now known as Marva Barfield, struck a plea deal with prosecutors, pleading guilty to willful injury to a child in exchange for a year in jail and probation.
Law enforcement officers testified that when they entered the home, they found starving and bruised children, cowed women and garage apartments locked and boarded up. They also found biological waste in bags.
Barfield testified that Muhummed would not let the women sit on the toilet, which he called a “throne.”
A social worker with Child Protective Services testified that he did not see any bruises on the children or wives, but did note that the youngsters were thin.
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