Sinhue Johnson
Sinhue Johnson

A man accused of hiding five of his children from the world could be released on bail soon.

Sinhue A. Johnson, 48, has been in locked up in county prison and, for a time, a state mental hospital for more than 2-1/2 years, according to defense attorney Korey Leslie.

Leslie petitioned Common Pleas Judge Richard K. Renn to reduce Johnson's bail so he can be released while awaiting trial on three separate criminal cases, including one for allegedly endangering the welfare of his children.

"Judge Renn ordered the probation department to verify that Sinhue has a stable residence to be released to," Leslie said.

He and Johnson provided the court with two addresses of Johnson's family members, either of whom he can live with, according to Leslie; neither is with Louann Bowers, who is the mother of Johnson's six children.

Supervised bail: If the probation department finds at least one of the homes appropriate, Johnson will be released on unsecured bail, meaning he won't have to put up any cash. However, it will be supervised bail, Leslie said, meaning the probation department will monitor Johnson.

"The judge made a condition that Sinhue is to have no contact with any witnesses in any of his cases, which would include his kids," Leslie said.

Johnson is charged with five counts of child endangerment for allegedly hiding his children from the world, allowing them to live in squalor and failing to provide basic medical care and schooling.

He has told The York Dispatch he never endangered his children.

All five children -- plus a sixth child Bowers gave birth to in prison -- were taken from the couple and remain in foster care.

Mother's case: Bowers, 35, of East Berlin, pleaded no contest in May 2011 to five counts of child endangerment and subsequently was sentenced to 11-1/2 to 23 months in prison. She was released on June 30, 2011.

Johnson's child-endangerment trial is scheduled to begin on March 4, according to Leslie. Trial dates for his other two pending cases have not yet been set.

If Johnson were to be found guilty in all three of his cases, he's likely already served enough prison time to cover the sentences he'd receive, according to Leslie.

The other pending criminal cases charge him with illegal gun possession and theft of leased property. Johnson maintains his innocence in those cases as well, Leslie said.

Senior deputy prosecutor Amy Eyster said she has offered Johnson a plea agreement that would give him a time-served sentence in exchange for him pleading guilty. The offer remains on the table and would allow Johnson's children to avoid taking the witness stand, she said Wednesday.

Mental-health issues: In January 2012, Renn concluded Johnson was incompetent to stand trial and sent him to a state hospital, despite the fact Johnson fought that determination and wanted his day in court.

Renn based his ruling, in part, on a court-ordered psychiatric evaluation, which determined Johnson suffered from a psychotic disorder and a personality disorder.

As part of that, he had a delusional disorder that included a sense of narcissistic entitlement, a belief in paranoid conspiracy theories and both persecutorial and grandiose delusions, a doctor determined.

In November, doctors at Torrance State Hospital in Pittsburgh determined Johnson had been made competent to stand trial, and he was brought back to York County.

-- Staff writer Liz Evans Scolforo can also be reached at levans@yorkdispatch.com.