SANTA MONICA—A California couple pleaded not guilty to the gruesome murders of their eldest son and daughter on Wednesday, February 2. Maurice Jewel Taylor Sr., 35, and Natalie Sumiko Brothwell, 45, are both charged with two counts of murder and two counts of child abuse in relation to their two youngest sons.Taylor is facing 57 years to life in prison if convicted. 

Back on November, 29, 2020, Maliaka Taylor, 13, and Maurice Jewel Taylor Jr., 12, were stabbed to death and decapitated in the family’s home in Lancaster. The two youngest boys, 8 and 9, were apparently shown the slain bodies of their siblings and locked in their rooms without food for days, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office confirmed. Authorities discovered the bodies five days later in the home, according to Deputy Eric Ortiz of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. 

Maurice Sr. had been working at a physical therapy center in Santa Monica and switched to working remotely as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. After missing several scheduled appointments, clients of his contacted the police who arrived at the home to conduct a welfare check. In September 2021, Brothwell was arrested at her home in Tuscon, Arizona. 

Both Taylor and Brothwell are currently behind bars with bail set to $4.2 million. They are scheduled back in court on Tuesday, February 15.