BUTLER COUNTY, AL (WSFA) - A Butler County couple has been indicted in what authorities say is one of the worst child abuse cases they've ever handled.
Several indictments were issued by a grand jury against Jonathan Paul Smith and his wife, Michelle, on charges of attempted murder, aggravated child abuse (family), sexual torture, sexual abuse of a child under the age of 12, and domestic violence assault.
In December prosecutors say two young relatives suffered such horrific abuse at the hands of the Smiths that they were left in critical condition.
Deputies were called to the Smith's home in the Greenmore community in reference to a medical emergency. Greenmore Road is located off of East Dogwood Trail (Butler County Road 37) outside of Georgiana, near Chapman.
When they arrived, officers found two children, a brother and sister, suffering from multiple injuries, according to Butler County Sheriff Kenny Harden.
The children were rushed to L.V. Stabler Memorial Hospital in Greenville and then transported to Children's of Alabama hospital in Birmingham for further treatment. They have since been released and are being cared for by family members as they continue to recover.
Jonathan Paul Smith, who goes by Paul, and Michelle Smith are related to the victims, the sheriff confirmed. Due to the nature of the case, officials have not released information on the victims' injuries or how they were inflicted. Their exact ages have not been revealed, only that they are younger than 12.
District Attorney Charlotte Tesmer represents Alabama's 2nd Judicial Circuit, which includes Butler, Lowndes, and Crenshaw Counties. She says the physical and sexual abuse that happened inside the Smith's home spanned hours, but they did not seek medical help for the children until the next day.
"It's a difficult case. The children are still having to go through medical treatment. They're living with family members and healing and going through the healing process. It's a serious case. Of course, they are innocent until proven guilty but the torture that these children went through was horrible," Tesmer said.
The couple will be arraigned on March 31. They remain in custody. Their cases will be on the June trial docket in Butler County.
"Anybody that's been touched by this case has had a difficult time dealing with it, whether it be law enforcement, attorneys. Anyone who has had anything to do with it, it's been wearing on them," Tesmer added.
There are indications that additional charges were presented to the grand jury in connection with the alleged torture at the Smith's house.