06/18/13 — Couple out on bond

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Couple out on bond

By John Joyce
Published in News on June 18, 2013 1:46 PM

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Air Force Maj. Erin James Pickel and his wife, Jennifer Kay Pickel, exit the courtroom Monday in Wayne County District Court.

A Goldsboro couple accused of child abuse were present at a child custody hearing in Wayne County District Court on Monday before appearing before a judge on civil charges.

U.S. Air Force Maj. Erin James Pickel, 44, and his wife, Jennifer Kay Pickel, 43, made their first appearance together, but with separate counsel.

The couple, adoptive parents of a 15-year-old boy and 13-year-old girl, are charged with five counts each of child abuse and five counts each of felony child neglect stemming from an investigation that dates back to 2008.

The defendants are now free under $25,000 bond after they were arrested and jailed Friday.

"No comment," Pickel said outside the courtroom following the proceedings.

Pickel has retained local defense attorney Geoff Hulse as counsel. Mrs. Pickel will be represented by Walter Webster.

The Pickels each face five counts of intentional child abuse and another five counts of felony child neglect. Authorities say in warrants that the children were forced to remain outside without provisions in a "playhouse" without proper clothing, electricity or heat. The warrant also charges that the children were assaulted, resulting in physical injury.