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Molester, parents plead not guilty in slaying of 6-year-old boy

BRUNSWICK, Ga. — A convicted child molester and his parents pleaded not guilty Friday to charges they kidnapped, sexually assaulted and murdered a 6-year-old boy whose body was found last month wrapped in a trash bag and dumped by a roadside.
    Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for 32-year-old George David Edenfield and his parents, David and Peggy Edenfield, in the March 8 slaying of young Christopher Michael Barrios.
    Investigators say Christopher was sexually assaulted and choked to death in the Edenfields’ trailer across the street from his grandmother’s home. He had been missing for a week when police found his body March 15 about three miles from his trailer-park home just outside Brunswick, a port city 60 miles south of Savannah.
    Attorneys for each of the suspects entered their pleas in Glynn County Superior Court. Each of the three were brought into the courtroom one at a time, and none spoke during the hearing or showed much emotion.
    George Edenfield, a small man with a shaved head and reddish beard, smiled slightly and shook hands with his lawyers before sitting down. His 58-year-old father watched his attorneys intently through the thick glasses he wore. Peggy Edenfield, 57, held her fingertips to her lips and occasionally shook her head as the charges against her were read.
    ‘‘To be in there and see them is very difficult, because they just sit there like nothing’s bothering them,’’ Mike Barrios, the boy’s father, said as he left the courthouse.
    Christopher’s father and grandmother, Sue Rodriguez, sat on a front-row courtroom bench as District Attorney Stephen Kelley read the indictment against the Edenfields. Rodriguez balled her right hand into a fist, scraping the nails of her forefinger and thumb together as the prosecutor read aloud the awful details in a rapid but formally flat voice.
    The indictment says Christopher was choked to death March 8 — the day he was reported missing — while the suspects were ‘‘ignoring his complaints that they were hurting him.’’ A police affidavit filed in the case say George Edenfield told investigators he choked the boy with his bare hands.
    The indictment also accuses George Edenfield and his father of sodomizing the boy and forcing him to perform oral sex while Peggy Edenfield watched and masturbated.
    ‘‘It’s tough to watch people who’re supposed to be a mother and father and know what they’ve done,’’ said Rodriguez, who said she came to court carrying one of Christopher’s baby teeth in her pocket. ‘‘I wanted to go up and whup their behind.’’
    George Edenfield pleaded guilty in 1997 to child molestation charges after he was accused of rubbing his clothed body against two boys who were also completely dressed. He was sentenced to 10 years on probation.
    George Edenfield and his parents moved into the trailer park from their home in downtown Brunswick last year after he was charged with violating a Georgia law prohibiting sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of schools, playgrounds and other places that draw children.
    George Edenfield pleaded guilty to the charge, and was sentenced to additional probation, March 5 — three days before Christopher vanished while playing outside at the trailer park where he lived with his mother and father.
    Superior Court Judge Stephen G. Scarlett, who is presiding over the death penalty case against the Edenfields, is the same judge who sentenced George Edenfield to probation instead of prison last month.
    Scarlett said from the bench Friday that his prior sentence was appropriate considering George Edenfield faced his first probation violation in almost 10 years. He also said he felt for the loss suffered by Christopher’s family.
    ‘‘But this court’s conduct will not be colored by that,’’ the judge said.

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