'We would always go to sleep hungry': Young Visalia girl describes life of harsh punishments, little food

VISALIA, Calif. (KFSN) -- On Friday, jurors listened to two recorded interviews between a Tulare County District Attorney's Office Child Abuse Response Team, or CART employee, and a young girl.

The girl and her older brother were allegedly abused by their father, Jose Vasquez, and stepmother, Alice Vasquez, between the fall of 2015 and fall of 2016.

Police reports detail how they allegedly punished the children with spankings and military-like exercises including push-ups positions and flutter kicks.

RELATED: Shocking new details revealed as trial begins for Visalia couple accused of starving children

One time, the girl said during the first CART interview in 2016, she was forced to write repeatedly that she would not steal or cheat-after she took a leftover piece of pancake.

The girl says taking food without asking wasn't allowed at home, so her and her brother would steal food when their parents weren't around.

Meal portions were also small.

At lunch for example, she says her stepmother would sometimes only give her a sandwich.

Other times there might be some carrots on the side.

"One time I had a peanut butter sandwich and had an apple and green beans," she told the interviewer.

The girl goes onto describe stealing different foods from her classmates' lunch pails while attending Shannon Ranch Elementary.

But she's hesitant to admit she stole food at home and at school because she was hungry.

She also expresses excitement about seeing her parents again.

In a later CART interview, however, she told the adult that her and her brother would always go to bed hungry while living with their parents, and that the punishments made her feel horrible.

The girl also called them evil.

Jose faces seven years in state prison if convicted.

Alice's maximum punishment is more than 14 years in prison.

The couple will be back in court on Tuesday.
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