Victim doesn’t want Jonassen punished more, FBI agent says
By Teresa Auch Schultz firstname.lastname@example.org July 17, 2012 2:17PM
Updated: August 19, 2012 6:22AM
A victim’s apparently complete memory loss during testimony Monday at a federal trial in Hammond appears to have happened because the woman did not want the defendant and her relative, Martin Jonassen, to be punished too severely, a federal agent testified Tuesday morning.
“She felt that (Jonassen) was facing too much time in prison,” FBI Special Agent Eric Field said of his talk with the victim Monday evening, just hours after she testified that she remembered nothing about her life, including the kidnapping.
Jonassen, 56, is on trial at the U.S. District Court in Hammond on charges that he kidnapped the relative from her home in Gallatin, Mo., on Sept. 10 and drove her to the Days Inn on U.S. 20 in Portage.
The 21-year-old woman told police at the time that he had tied her up and blocked the door to the room and that she was only able to escape when she heard him leave while she was in the shower. Witnesses testified Monday that they saw her running, naked, across U.S. 20 and into a nearby liquor store, where Jonassen caught up to her and dragged her into his car. Police stopped him before he drove off.
However, the woman continually answered questions Monday from Assistant U.S. Attorney Jill Koster with “I don’t remember.”
Koster told U.S. District Judge James Moody on Monday that the victim’s entire family was scared of Jonassen, and on Tuesday, she asked Moody to declare that Jonassen had influenced the victim to say she didn’t remember anything.
Jonassen is already facing other charges of obstruction of justice and intimidating a witness because he has continually called and mailed letters to the victim asking her to change her statement to police. Koster said these communications included bribes, such as $7,000 and a mo-ped, and an attempt to induce guilt by telling her he was being beaten in jail.
“He gave her plenty of reasons,” Koster said of Jonassen’s influence on the victim.
Field testified that the victim told him Monday night that she felt the time Jonassen has already spent in prison in addition to probation would be enough to keep him in check in the future.
Jonassen objected, saying he hadn’t had contact with the relative since October.
Moody ruled in favor of the government and allowed prosecutors to introduce the victim’s previous statements to police about the incident. FBI Special Agent Matt Chicamtek testified that the victim had told him over the course of four interviews, including one Sunday night, about her life with Jonassen. The victim never received a birth certificate or Social Security number, Chicamtek said, and was home-schooled by Jonassen until she was 10. In July 2011, she went willingly on a trip with Jonassen to some property he owned in Michigan. However, once there, he repeatedly slept naked with her and sexually assaulted her several times, Chicamtek testified of her statements.
“She said she was confused by that because that was something that hadn’t happened before,” he said.
A few weeks after they returned to Missouri, Chicamtek testified, Jonassen discovered his relative was dating an older man, which infuriated him to the point of chasing the couple while they were on a date. Then, on Sept. 10, he got into a wrestling match with the woman in her trailer until she collapsed from exhaustion. When she woke up, she discovered he had put her clothes in his car and he was forcibly putting her in there, too, despite her protests.
Prosecutors also presented pictures of the victim that were taken after Jonassen was arrested. The pictures show bruises on her arms, legs, breasts and back. Red welts can also be seen. Portage Detective Janis Regnier said welts were road rashes that the victim got after she tried to escape from the car.
The trial is expected to last through the week.