The trial of a Muskingum County couple charged in the death of two children began Monday in Common Pleas Court.
A jury of 11 men and one woman will decide the fate of 38-year-old Richard Klein Jr and 25-year-old Kasey Klein. The couple have been charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter and two counts of child endangering.
3-year-old Ayden Cecil and 2-year-old Anthony Tullius are believed to have accidently drowned while the family was camping near Ellis Dam last June. Cecil's body was recovered from the river the same day, but Tullius' body has never been found.
"This is clear, this wasn't a tragic accident it was a human tragedy that took the life of two innocent and adventurous little boys," said Prosecuting Attorney Bob Smith. "(This) did not have to happen and should not have happened, the deaths of these two boys could have been avoided had the defendants in this case, Kasey Klein the boys natural mother, and Richard Klein the boys Step Father, used common sense and held their responsibilities as parents to protect these two boys from harm."
Defense Attorney Rachel Troutman said the Kleins cooperated with authorities, giving consent to be interviewed, as well as having their home searched. Troutman said the Kleins broke no camping rules, nor laws.
"The Kleins camped in an authorized camping spot, with a fire pit that invites you to camp there and also a picnic table that also invites you to camp there," described Troutman. "They broke no law in where they chose to camp, they didn't even break a camp ground rule of where they chose to camp, there were no warnings posted that they disregarded."
If convicted the Kleins could face 20 years in prison.