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Decision expected on American missionaries in Haiti

  • Laura Silsby and Charisa Coulter have remained in custody after the release of others
  • Authorities stopped the group of 10 as they tried to cross the border with 33 children
  • Judge says he will decide whether to release the two or keep them in jail indefinitely

Port-Au-Prince, Haiti (CNN) -- A Haitian judge will decide Wednesday the fate of two American missionaries detained on suspicion of kidnapping 33 children after the devastating earthquake in January.

Judge Bernard Saint-Vil said he will decide whether to release Laura Silsby and Charisa Coulter or to keep them in jail indefinitely.

Last month, Saint-Vil released eight others in the group, but Silsby and Coulter remained in custody because the judge wanted to learn more about their motives.

Since then, Saint-Vil has traveled to the Dominican Republic to see where Silsby said she intended to open an orphanage.

The 10 Americans, many of whom belong to a Baptist church in Idaho, have said they were trying to help the children get to a safe place after the magnitude-7.0 earthquake flattened cities and towns in Haiti.

Haitian authorities stopped the group on January 29 as they tried to cross the border with 33 children without proper legal documentation. The group said it was going to house the children in a converted hotel in the Dominican Republic and later move them to an orphanage.

Silsby originally claimed the children were orphaned or abandoned, but CNN determined that more than 20 of them had at least one living parent. Some said they placed their children in Silsby's care because that was the only way they knew to ensure a better quality of life.