CEDAR CREST, N.M. (KRQE) – A Cedar Crest father accused of starving and abusing his stepchildren will not stay locked up until trial.

Aaron Brooks and his wife are accused of forcing her 11-year-old daughter and 9-year-old son to stay outside in the cold without proper clothing for hours, to stand at attention for long period of time, and according to school staff, were so hungry they would eat out of trash cans at school.

When investigators went to question the kids, they found them wearing diapers. The kids are now in foster care, but prosecutors argued that Brooks should remain locked up because he continues to be a danger to his own children who are still living in the home. His attorneys claim there’s more to the story.

“These are parents struggling to deal with an autistic child who’s very difficult and getting advice that they are trying to follow through on as far as diet for the oldest child and less sugar for the second oldest,” attorney Paul Linnenburger said.

He also pointed out that the children still in the home are in good health, according to a doctor and the Children, Youth, and Families Department. Judge Richard Brown denied the request to keep Brooks locked up.