PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The biological daughter of a couple charged in the alleged abuse of their adoptive children was set to testify in court this morning as a prosecution witness, but the testimony didn’t happen.

It’s all part of a complex series of events leading up to what will likely be a complex trial.

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It was to be a condition so that Douglas and Kristen Barbour could regain custody of their 5-year-old daughter.

She was supposed to testify about what she knew regarding allegations of abuse involving the couple’s adoptive Ethiopian children. But prosecutors worried that once in their custody, she could be influenced by them.

So, Judge Jeffrey Manning ordered the videotaped testimony of the girl so her story could be preserved.

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But once she arrived in court, it appeared to be too much for the little girl. Both sides interviewed her on Monday, but in a smaller more intimate room.

“She was playing around with the chairs and things like that, and today she couldn’t even look up to acknowledge me, that she knew me at all,” said Robert Stewart, the defense attorney. “So, coming into this big building, seeing all these strangers – she’s still only a 5-year-old child. I hope that the Commonwealth learns from this and decides not to call her because, in our opinion, she really – one, has a question of competency, and two, doesn’t add anything to their case.”

The judge had both parents promise not to influence the child should she testify.

“They were certainly willing to acknowledge to the court that they won’t do anything to influence or affect their child,” said Charles Porter, a defense attorney. “They don’t want their child going through this either, obviously, so it was a good decision by the Commonwealth, and I think it benefits everybody, that we short circuited this hearing.”

But the child still should be called as a witness when the trial begins on July 9.

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Pa. Deputy General To Get Biological Kids Back After Abuse Claim (4/18/13)
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