3 jailed pending trial in slave-labor case

Associated Press


There’s enough evidence against people accused of enslaving a mentally disabled woman and her daughter to send the case before a grand jury, a federal magistrate judge ruled Monday.

Judge Nancy Vecchiarelli made the ruling against two of four defendants in the case and ordered them locked up pending trial. A third defendant skipped a chance to ask for pretrial release, and a fourth was freed last week to await trial.

No grand jury timetable was detailed in court.

The government won’t comment on why the fourth defendant, who’s pregnant, was treated differently, said Mike Tobin, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office handling the investigation out of Ashland, about 60 miles southwest of Cleveland.

The government, relying heavily on an FBI agent’s affidavit released last week when the defendants were arrested, said Jordie Callahan and Jessica Hunt are charged with a crime of violence and a crime involving a child and should be held without bond pending trial.

The judge agreed and said Congress had set pretrial release standards different from the state standard under which the two had been released on bond. State kidnap charges against them were dismissed last week, clearing the way for the federal charges.

Federal prosecutor Chelsea Rice detailed past parole violations by the two and said they had tried to intimidate a witness in the case.

Callahan and Hunt, wearing jail outfits and with their wrists cuffed, sat across each other at a defense table, with Callahan frequently shaking his head “no” to the allegations. Hunt sat with her back to the public gallery, occasionally leaning to talk to her attorneys.

Another defendant, Daniel J. “DJ” Brown, made a brief appearance before the judge and said he wouldn’t challenge the pretrial evidence against him or seek pretrial release on bond.

Last week, defendant Dezerah Silsby was released and was ordered to stay in contact with the probation office while awaiting trial.

Don't Miss a Story

Sign up for our newsletter to receive daily news directly in your inbox.