Parents charged in death of 5-year-old daughter appear in court

Posted at 11:06 AM, Jan 19, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-19 14:44:38-05

The parents charged in the death of 5-year-old Ashley Zhao appeared in Massillon Municipal Court for a preliminary hearing Thursday morning. 

The parents were scheduled to appear in court at 11 a.m. today, but Liang Zhao, the girl's father, fell getting out of the transport vehicle in Massillon. He was shackled during the incident and was transported to a local hospital.

At the hearing, Zhao waived his right to a preliminary hearing trial. The judge said an indictment will come later Thursday. Their case will be moved to Stark County Common Pleas Court.

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Ashley's body was found hidden inside the couple's Chinese restaurant on January 11. Investigators believe she was beaten to death by Chen and Liang Zhao helped hide the body.

Federal court documents indicate the North Canton mother faced deportation in 2012. Jackson Township police confirm Chen is not a U.S. citizen.

She is charged with murder and felonious assault. Zhao is charged with complicity to commit murder and complicity to commit felonious assault.

The parents were being held on a $5 million bond each.