Former Georgia Tech linebacker Recardo Wimbush and his wife Therian Wimbush were sentenced to 20 years in prison and 10 on probation Monday morning.
The pair were each convicted on three counts of second-degree child cruelty Friday; they kept their oldest son in a small, darkened basement room for 18 months, which Judge Deborah Fluker called "unusual, inhumane and harsh treatment." The Wimbushes also did not seek medical care for another child who had a large skin tumor on his abdomen.
The AJC is not identifying any of the 10 Wimbush children because they are juveniles and because two are victims of abuse.
Recardo Wimbush and Therian Wimbush will be barred from contacting the two sons who were abused, now 16 and 10, until they are 21 years old. They are permitted to see their other eight children in supervised visits before they are 18. All contact between parents and children must be initiated by the children.
The two had no visible reaction as the sentence came down.
Therian Wimbush claimed all responsibility for keeping her oldest son in the basement in her statement to Fluker before the sentence was given. In an emotional speech, Therian Wimbush tearfully told Fluker that she only sought to prevent a troubled life for her son.
“This entire situation lies on my shoulders. I saw that my oldest son that stood literally at the wide gate that leads to the road of possibilities that leads ultimately to destruction,” Therian Wimbush said. “The most frightening thought for me was not his death, but walking the path that two of his uncles had walked: the prison pipeline.”
She asked for contact with her children, saying she wanted to hug her oldest son and tell him “It was all Mommy’s fault, it wasn’t Daddy’s fault.”
Recardo Wimbush asked for Fluker’s mercy, portraying himself as a hard-working father, taking on 12-hour shifts as a railroad manager and trying to encourage them to be the best at whatever they were passionate about.
Both Wimbush parents asked to be sentenced for time served, with any additional sentence being served on probation. The Wimbushes have been held without bond for 31 months following their June 2014 arrest.
Gwinnett County Chief Assistant District Attorney Dan Mayfield asked the judge for the sentence that was given: 20 years in prison and 10 years on probation. Each count of second-degree child cruelty carries a maximum sentence of 10 years.
All the children, including the son who was kept in the basement, want to have contact with their parents, Chancey said. Chancey recommended the no-contact order because, after discussions with the children’s foster parents and mental health providers, she believes contact could lead to negative impacts on their mental health and potential acting out “in a misguided attempt” to disrupt a foster home placement and get back into their parents’ custody.
Darice Good, a lawyer for eight of the Wimbush children, asked that the children have “closely monitored” contact with their parents. Good characterized the children as “thriving” in their foster homes “partially due to how well they were raised” by Recardo Wimbush and Therian Wimbush.
Good, who has represented children as an attorney for 16 years, said most children “do not thrive” in foster care or without contact from their parents. The children are currently split up across three different foster homes and with extended family.