Man who kidnapped woman and took her to Portage motel gets 40 years
By Teresa Auch Schultz firstname.lastname@example.org February 19, 2013 1:20PM
Martin Jonassen. | Provided Photo~Sun-Times Media ptmet
Updated: February 19, 2013 9:28PM
He cited a religious intervention, blunt force trauma, a supposed suicide attempt and a dozen other defenses, but a man convicted of kidnapping a relative and taking her to a motel in Portage failed to move a federal judge to sympathy.
Now Martin Jonassen, 56, will spend effectively the rest of his life, 40 years, in prison after being convicted last year by a federal jury of kidnapping and obstructing justice.
U.S. District Judge James Moody handed down the sentence Tuesday morning at the U.S. District Court in Hammond after listening to Jonassen, who has represented himself throughout the case, give a rambling and repetitive list of reasons why he should not be sentenced to prison and other objections to the case in general.
Jonassen has filed hundreds of motions and objections in the case, most of which were redundant, claiming he did not recognize the authority of the federal government over him and that his religious rights were violated.
Judge Moody denied all of the motions, however, and cited during his ruling the government attorneys’ court filing, which he called persuasive.
“Defendant ... repeatedly bound her ankles and wrists with belts and baling twine, drove her across several states to places unfamiliar to her, and forced her to participate in sexual acts and/or sexual conduct with him,” the judge read. “Jane Doe was so desperate to escape from Defendant that she ran naked in broad daylight down a public highway and into a liquor store to beg complete strangers for help.”
Moody did note that he had difficulty in including any part of Jonassen’s life in the sentence because Jonassen refused to speak to probation officers who put together his sentencing report.
A jury found that Jonassen kidnapped his then-21-year-old relative from her home in Missouri in September 2011, tied her up and drove her to a motel in Portage. The woman was only able to escape when she was in the middle of a shower and Jonassen left the room. She took off running down U.S. 20 in Portage and then into a liquor store, with Jonassen following her.
A security video played at trial showed the victim grabbing on to any handle she could as Jonassen grabbed her, lifted her up and dragged her out the store. A Portage police officer arrived just as Jonassen shoved the woman into his car and was preparing to leave.
His arrest didn’t stop him as Jonassen continued to call the victim and other family members to convince the victim to change her testimony to police, trying to bribe and guilt her into recanting. His efforts appear to have worked, as the victim answered every single question at trial with “I don’t remember,” although the jury still found him guilty.
Jonassen argued during the hearing Tuesday that he had suffered a blunt force trauma shortly before the incident that affected his actions. He also mentioned a suicide attempt, although it was not clear what he meant, and appeared to imply he was trying to rescue the victim when she went into the liquor store because his family is part Native American and has trouble with “fire water,” or alcohol.