The father and stepmother who “pranked” their kids to the point of tears for video views have been sentenced to five years probation for child neglect.
Michael and Heather Martin were sentenced Monday after being charged with two counts each of neglect of a minor on July 27. Prosecutors alleged that they neglected two of their children, Emma, 12, and Cody, 9, from November 2016 through April 2017.
During that time, the parents shared viral videos as DaddyOFive on YouTube, in which they played dark tricks on their children.
In the videos, which no longer remain on YouTube, the Martins are apparently shown yelling and swearing at their children until they cry. In one video, Michael allegedly yelled at Cody for spilling ink on the carpet until the child cried, then Heather later revealed it to be invisible ink.
In another video, Cody got a bloody nose after Michael shoved him into a bookcase.
The Martins lost custody of Cody and Emma in April after viewers, and the children’s mother, Rose Hall, blasted them with abuse allegations. Hall was also granted emergency custody of the children.
After the couple and their five children underwent psychological evaluations, it was found that Cody and Emma suffered "mental injury" as a result of the videos, Frederick County Assistant State's Attorney Lindy Angel told BuzzFeed News on Monday.
According to a negotiated plea agreement, the Martins entered Alford pleas before sentencing — a plea that means they agree that the state has enough evidence to prove their guilt, though they don’t necessarily admit what they did was criminal. Before reaching a plea agreement, the Martins each faced up to five years on each count and a $5,000 fine.
Under the terms of their probation, Michael and Heather are not allowed to have contact with the two children unless approved by the judge in their ongoing custody case. They are also banned from posting videos of the two kids on social media.
The Martins’ lawyer Stephen Tully says the couple were "fully satisfied" with the outcome of the case. They were "concerned about what took place and what effect it had on the children that they did not foresee,” he told Buzzfeed News.
He said that while the Martins had agreed not to post videos featuring Cody and Emma, it was a "possibility" that they would continue to post videos of themselves or their three other children. "Just not in the same fashion as before," Tully said.