A mother and father pleaded not guilty to child abuse and false imprisonment charges Thursday stemming from allegations they forced one of their children to use a bucket as a toilet while locked in a room.
On May 13, Titis and Mary Ebubechukwu's 4-year-old son was found roaming the streets alone, a few blocks from his Lancaster home, officials said.
Deputies from the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department went to the boy's house to speak to his parents but didn't find them there. Instead, they found his 10-year-old sister locked in room with a chain from the outside, Deputy District Attorney Theodore Swanson said. The girl used a bucket when she needed to use the bathroom, he added.
Titus, 48, and Mary, 52, were charged with three felony counts of child abuse and one felony count of false imprisonment.
However, neighbors said it isn't what it looked like and came to their defense.
"It's a misunderstanding, our kids play together," Antionette Oliver said. "They are very integral."
Joe Vales, who lives next door, said the parents had four children and never noticed any of them messy or unkept but at times did notice odd behavior.
He wondered if the allegations were true.
"It hurt me inside for a few days when I found out," he said.
If convicted they face a maximum sentence of eight years and eight months in prison.