The Sturgis family secrets were revealed in open court today as two sons of Terry Sturgis testified at his murder trial.
The boys are ages 14 and 9. Both told what they knew of the beating death of their 10 year old brother Tramelle Sturgis last November.
The older boy known as TJ said he had twice before been ordered to lie to social workers about abuse in the household.
Today, he was calm and unemotional as he swore to tell the truth.
When police were called to the Sturgis family home in the early morning hours of November 4th of last year, TJ was still wearing a blood stained shirt and sporting fresh wounds from a blow to the head he said left him dizzy and unable to see.
In court today, TJ identified the stick he says his father used as a weapon on the night in question, and said both he and his brother Tramelle had been bound with duct tape before being beaten.
Tramelle’s youngest brother also testified. The head of the now nine year old boy barely rose above the witness stand.
The boy was so young that attorneys had to demonstrate that he knew the difference between the truth and a lie, before he was allowed to testify.
The youngest brother said he was hit with the stIck on the shoulder, back, and butt, before he was sent to bed early, where he could still hear the alleged assaults on TJ and Tramelle continue.
According to TJ, at one point his father stood on the chest of Tramelle, and twice picked up and choked the boy.
A cousin of the boys who lived upstairs in the home on West Washington Street testified that Tramelle was smart and quiet, and she always thought he would grow up to be a professor or a doctor.
The girl said she never saw the boys being beaten, but sometimes heard screams coming from the basement that were so loud, they could be heard outside the home.
While TJ couldn’t say exactly how long he was allegedly abused by his father, he did indicate it was often enough and severe enough that he learned to come up with inventive ways to try to stop the blows.
In the middle of a beating, TJ said he would tattle on a sibling in an attempt to redirect his father’s anger and violence onto one of his brothers.
The November night in question started with TJ being beaten with a stick for stealing pencils at school, but the target became brother Tramelle upon word that Tramelle stole a bottle of water from his father’s special supply.
TJ said that one blow he received to his head made him dizzy and that he couldn’t see. He said the beating of Tramelle was so severe that his brother’s last words were “random stuff I couldn’t understand.”
The trial continues on Monday.