Ex-Tech star, wife accused of imprisoning son make combative court appearances

Therian Wimbush yawned as she shuffled into courtroom 3F at the Gwinnett County justice center Friday morning, her legs restrained by chains and a packet of papers clutched against her chest.

Prosecutor Dan Mayfield attempted to start the scheduled arraignment hearing, a necessary step in the ongoing criminal case against Wimbush and her husband (former Georgia Tech football standout Recardo). The couple is accused of keeping their oldest son locked in the basement at their Buford-area home for as long as two years.

Wimbush, though, repeatedly tried to bring up other motions she’s filed in the case, of which there are dozens. She’s serving as her own attorney.

“In fact, prior to arraignment, there are some issues...,” she started, before Mayfield reiterated that the arraignment — a formal reading of the charges against her — was the only matter that would be addressed.

Wimbush tried again and again, despite rebuffs from the prosecutor and Judge Kathy Schrader. The brief hearing ultimately ended with Schrader entering a not guilty plea on Wimbush’s behalf, which is standard procedure when a defendant refuses to enter a plea themselves.

Wimbush then struggled with deputies as she was guided out of the courtroom, telling them not to touch her.

“Would you like to be picked up, Mrs. Wimbush?” Schrader asked.

Therian and Recardo Wimbush have been married since their time at Georgia Tech, where Recardo was an all-conference linebacker and a team captain in 2002. They’ve remained in the Gwinnett County jail since their original arrest in June 2014.

Authorities believe the deeply religious couple punished the oldest of their 10 children by imprisoning him in a basement bedroom for as long as two years.

The room had only a mattress and a makeshift toilet, police have said, and the lone window was painted over. The boy, 13 years old at the time of his parents' arrest, reportedly told police he was fed regularly and allowed to come upstairs on occasion, but was being punished for "taking the family DVD player and lying about it."

Therian Wimbush has also claimed the child inappropriately touched a female sibling.

All 10 of the couple's children, which Therian had homeschooled for years, remain in state custody.

Friday's hearings — in which Recardo Wimbush appeared separately, repeatedly asked for his wife to be present and had a not guilty plea entered on his behalf as well — came five days after the couple submitted a joint "plea offer" to the district attorney's office. In the letter, the couple called the seven-count indictment against them "false, fictitious and fraudulent" and asked for all charges to be dismissed and for the couple to be "IMMEDIATELY" released from jail.

It also demanded "$600,000 per day for each day that they have spent falsely imprisoned in the Gwinnett County Jail." By Friday, the Wimbushes had been incarcerated for more than 900 days — meaning their request would add up to over $540 million.

It was just the latest of dozens of motions and other legal actions filed by Therian Wimbush since she took over as her own attorney (and later convinced her husband to do the same). Previous filings have included a request that all Gwinnett County judges recuse themselves from hearing the case and a June 2015 lawsuit filed against six child services workers, three judges, two attorneys, one police detective and an "anonymous caller."

That suit essentially alleged a conspiracy and asked for $500 million.

Two days of motions hearings in the case are scheduled for later this month. Mayfield, the prosecutor, said this week that he was looking “forward to a jury trial very soon.”