Joshua Tree couple accused of child abuse defend themselves

A photograph of the family of five’s home in Joshua Tree, California. /Photograph- STR:AFP:Getty Images

By Rebecca Plevin and Amy DiPierro | The Desert Sun

On the morning of February 28, Daniel Panico, Mona Kirk and their three children woke up on their 5-acre property in Joshua Tree. It has a white travel trailer, a fort the kids built and a generator for electricity.

It was the middle child’s birthday and he had two requests: to eat fondue all day and to sleep in his fort. For breakfast, they dipped sliced fruit and graham crackers into homemade lemon yogurt. Then Kirk and the kids gathered in their fort, which was constructed from plywood and tarps.

They had just kicked off their shoes and clambered onto a bed, preparing to play a round of Parcheesi, when the birthday boy exited the structure and then ran back inside. He looked panicked.

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