SPRINGFIELD, Ga. (WSAV) — A father charged in the deaths of two of his children appeared in Effingham County court on Friday.

Elwyn Crocker faces more than a dozen charges, including felony murder. Mary and Elwyn Crocker Jr. were found buried at their Guyton home in December 2018 during a welfare check.

Prosecutors claim Mary had been starved, tased, kept in a dog cage and sexually assaulted. Investigators believe Elwyn Jr. may have been buried in the yard for up to two years before his body was discovered.

A third child, who has cerebral palsy, was found alive in the home.

The case has been delayed partly due to the pandemic putting a pause on court proceedings, but also due to more than 60 pre-trial motions filed by Crocker’s attorneys.

Friday, defense attorneys presented 12 motions to the judge. Crocker’s legal team raised concern about the attention on this case and the impact it may have on finding an impartial jury, leading them to ask the judge to close the courtroom for future pre-trial hearings where evidence will be shown.

“There comes a point when even if you have a jury that will come in and may tell you I haven’t seen any press coverage about the case,” said defense attorney Samuel Wood. “There comes a point though where it reaches a level of saturation that gets beyond the control of the court unless the court puts measures in place to limit information getting out there.”

In addition, the defense filed a motion to prevent the state from seeking the death penalty and to throw away the indictment altogether, arguing the charges and dates of the alleged actions are too vague.

“This is not a typical case of say a shooting, where a shooting occurs on one day, we know exactly within a certain amount of time when a shooting occurred,” said Assistant District Attorney Matt Breedon. “These were persistent and continuing acts by this defendant that led and caused the death of his minor children.”

“The state does not have to allege every single act he committed,” Breedon continued. “We don’t have to allege he did withhold lunch on this day, did withhold dinner on this day, did lock her in an animal crate for three hours on this day. The indictment would be a massive indictment at that point.”

The judge did not issue rulings on any of the motions Friday, and didn’t during the previous two hearings either.

Five people have been charged in the case, including Crocker Sr.’s mother-in-law, Kimberly Wright; her son, Mark Wright; her boyfriend, Roy Prather; and the children’s stepmother, Candice Crocker.

Prather, who is not facing the death penalty, quickly took a plea. Candice Crocker followed, pleading guilty to eight charges in Oct. 2020 to avoid the death penalty. She’ll be sentenced to life in prison without parole and must testify against Crocker Sr., her mother and her brother.

The judge said Elwyn will be tried first, followed by the Wrights. The next pre-trial hearing is scheduled for Oct. 27.