Murrieta couple pleads not guilty in child torture case

A Murrieta couple charged with child abuse and torture of the man's 5-year-old son entered not guilty pleas Thursday in a Murrieta cou...

A Murrieta couple charged with child abuse and torture of the man's 5-year-old son entered not guilty pleas Thursday in a Murrieta courtroom.

Benjamin Whitten, 33, and Jeryn Johnson, 25, are accused of causing severe injuries to the boy, who remains in grave condition in a San Diego hospital. They were arrested Aug. 15 after Murrieta Police officers responded to a 911 call in the 24000 block of Verdun Lane and found the boy comatose and living in "extremely unsanitary" conditions.

Whitten and Johnson are being held in lieu of $1 million bail. They are due back in court Oct. 6 for a felony settlement conference. Whitten is the father of the boy and Johnson has been identified as his live-in girlfriend.

The case has drawn considerable media attention and expressions of outrage and concern from residents. One group has organized a "Justice for Feno" Facebook group, which has nearly 5,000 members.




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