Trial to begin for couple accused of locking child in basement

HAMILTON, Ohio - A couple accused of keeping a 12-year-old girl locked in their basement for weeks will start their trial Tuesday on a child endangering charge.

Thirty-seven-year-old Joanna Blackston and 40-year-old Shawn Blackston have both pleaded not guilty in Butler County to the misdemeanor count. Earlier felony charges of kidnapping were dismissed.

Butler County Children's Services received a call that the girl was kept captive and fed irregularly. A subsequent investigation led to their arrest on July 6 and the removal of the girl and five other children from the home.

Investigators said in July that the girl was confined to the Middletown home's basement as punishment, and was let out only to use the bathroom.

The couple's six children have been in foster care since the arrest of the Blackstons in July.

The three-day trial is expected to begin at 9 a.m. Tuesday. The Blackstons have been out on a $25,000 bond each.

Stay with 9 News and for updates as they become available.

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