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California parents who housed kids in desert shack released

JOSHUA TREE, Calif. - UPDATE: 3/6/2018 2:56 p.m. 

A Southern California couple has been released from jail following their arrest after authorities found their three children living in a makeshift desert shack.
    
Daniel Panico and Mona Kirk were released Tuesday after their attorneys argued they aren't a flight risk and couldn't afford their $300,000 bail. They have pleaded not guilty to child abuse charges.
    
Kirk's attorney, Elizabeth Crabtree, says she and Panico's attorney will argue next week that the couple deserves to be reunited with their children. Eventually they'll argue for the charges to be dropped.
    
Crabtree says Panico and Kirk should never have been arrested and that being poor doesn't amount to abuse.
    
Authorities said the children had been living without running water or electricity for several years.
    
Dozens rallied in support of the couple outside court.

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 Southern California authorities say a family of five was discovered living in a squalid desert shack and the parents were arrested for investigation of child cruelty.

The San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department says the ramshackle shelter was spotted Wednesday during a check of an area near Joshua Tree, about 125 miles (201 kilometers) east of Los Angeles.

The dwelling cobbled together with plywood and plastic sheeting was only about 4 feet high and 10 feet wide, and mounds of trash and human feces were nearby. Authorities say the family had been living there for about four years.

The county's Department of Children and Family Services took charge of three children, ages 11, 13 and 14.

Deputies booked 73-year-old Daniel Panico and 51-year-old Mona Kirk into jail.

 

 

 

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