Defense: Visitors didn't see alleged abuse of woman
By CHRIS COTELESSE
Minutes after prosecutors rested their case, friends of the couple accused of imprisoning and abusing a cognitively impaired woman testified they never witnessed any mistreatment.
Friends of Jessica L. Hunt, 31, and Jordie L. Callahan, 26, testified Tuesday they didn’t see anyone being mistreated while spending significant periods of time at 509 W. Main St., Ashland, during the time federal prosecutors allege the couple imprisoned and abused the woman referred to in court papers as S.E. and her 5-year-old daughter.
Hunt and Callahan both face federal charges of labor-trafficking conspiracy and abuse of the 30-year-old woman. If convicted of those charges, they could face 39 years in prison.
If the jury considers the sentencing enhancement for kidnapping, they could receive life in prison.
During the past two weeks, U.S. attorneys called several witnesses who testified that Hunt and Callahan forced S.E. to clean their house, wear a dog collar, use the floor for a bathroom and that they would punish her with beatings and humiliation.
Michael “Mac” Crook, however, testified he visited with Hunt and Callahan at their home once or twice a week in 2010, and by 2012 was visiting the residence up to four times a week.
He told defense lawyers he never saw anyone abuse S.E., and he never saw her clean anything.
“She didn’t seem out of place,” Crook said. “She could come and go as she pleased.”
Defense attorney Carolyn Kucharski asked about S.E.’s physical appearance and hygiene and that of her daughter. Several prosecution witnesses testified that S.E. was often dirty and her clothes were in disarray.
Crook said S.E. and her daughter didn’t appear to be neglected, however. “They seemed normal to me,” he said.
Another defense witness, Robert Fedders, Callahan’s cousin, said he would visit the Main Street home once or twice a week from May 2010 to November 2011.
He also testified he didn’t see anything unusual.
The trial, which began two weeks ago in the Thomas D. Lambros Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse here, is expected to continue today with the defense considering calling Hunt to the witness stand.
U.S. Judge Benita Pearson released jurors about 2:40 p.m. Tuesday so she could discuss various motions with attorneys, including several to acquit Callahan and Hunt.
She is expected to rule on the motions today.
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