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LAWRENCE, KS (KCTV/AP) -
A Kansas judge has ruled that an Illinois couple will stand trial on child abuse charges after two of their children were found bound in a Walmart parking lot.
Douglas County District Court Judge Paula Martin ruled Tuesday at the conclusion of a preliminary hearing for Deborah Gomez and her husband, Adolfo Gomez.
A child whose brother and sister were found bound and blindfolded in a Walmart parking lot in Lawrence told an investigator that the family believed her younger siblings and their Illinois home was possessed by demons, a police officer testified Tuesday.
The children were discovered tied up and with duct tape over their eyes outside the store in Lawrence in June. Their parents, 44-year-old Deborah Gomez and 52-year-old Adolfo Gomez Jr., are charged with two counts of child abuse and five counts of aggravated child endangerment.
Defense attorney Elbridge Griffy says the couple belongs to a Pentecostal religion and says the children may have been tied up as part of their faith.
"You have to take into account what the beliefs of these children were. What their intentions were," Griffy said.
Griffy said he has an uphill battle in preparing this defense.
"There are a lot of issues in this case, and we got a lot of work to do," he said.
Lawrence police officer Hayden Fowler testified at a preliminary hearing to decide if the parents should stand trial that an older daughter said the family was going to try to cast the demons from her 5-year-old brother and 7-year-old sister.
Fowler said one of the children told him that the family believed there were "demons" in their Northlake, Ill., home and outside their vehicle in the parking lot, and that the family had recently watched online videos about demons and "a fallen angel."
Fowler testified that one of the older children told him the younger siblings had been tied up because the family believed that "demons had overtaken their bodies." He said the child told him that duct tape was placed over their eyes to protect them from demons.
The older daughter said they were going to attempt to cast the demons out of the younger children, but did not say how they planned to do that.
He said the daughter told him "if the demons were to die (the children) would die also."
When the two younger children were discovered at the Walmart lot, their three older siblings, ages 12, 13 and 15, were inside the vehicle but not restrained. The five children have been placed in protective custody, and their parents remain jailed on $50,000 bond.
Adolfo and Deborah Gomez appeared in court Tuesday in orange jail pants and T-shirts and appeared to be listening intently to the testimony.
Police have said the family was traveling from Illinois to see a family member in Arizona when their SUV broke down on Interstate 70. The family members stopped in Lawrence and were in the Walmart parking lot when Linda Baranski, 64, called police. She said she saw 1 of the bound children outside the vehicle in the store's parking lot.
During Tuesday's hearing Baranski testified that she noticed the child when she pulled her car into the parking lot. She said the child was sitting "flat on the cement, and they were bound and I thought gagged, and they were rocking back and forth," she said.
"I thought it might have been some sort of abduction," Baranski said during her testimony.
Baranski said Adolfo Gomez then caught her eye and appeared angry when he motioned for her to leave.
"He motioned in a kind of angry way as if to say get out of here," Baranski said. She said she then pulled into a parking spot and called the police.
Martin said there was ample evidence to support the abuse charges. But she said the state did not prove its case on previous endangerment charges.
Copyright 2012 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) and The Associated Press. All rights reserved.