Beatings and threats cited in torture trial testimony

MARQUETTE – Testimony continued Wednesday in the trial of two Ishpeming men accused of toturing and imprisoning two Ishpeming women.

Jason David Sadowski, 44, and Charles Leroy Cope, 66, are charged with two counts of torture and two counts of unlawful imprisonment. Sadowski has also been charged with first-degree criminal sexual conduct, solicitation of murder and assault with intent to do bodily harm less than murder.

During Tuesday’s questioning by Marquette County Prosecuting Attorney Matthew Wiese, the woman described a hellish ordeal in which she and the other alleged victim were, for hours, beaten, threatened and duct-taped to support posts in the basement of Sadowski’s home and business, The Martial Way.

The woman said at one point, Sadowski asked her to kill the other woman and had also asked her to search inside the second woman’s body for any money believed to have been stolen from him.

She testified things didn’t get violent until she admitted to Sadowski she had stolen money from his wallet.

Wednesday’s full day of testimony began with cross examination of the alleged victim and included testimony from Ishpeming Police Department Officer Jeremy Ray, Patrolman Jason Hart and Michigan State Police Det. Sgt. Christopher Croley, all of whom responded to the scene the morning of July 2.

The jury also viewed a roughly 37 minute video captured by Ray’s patrol car camera combined with audio from a microphone worn by Ray. The video, which began just before Ray arrived at the scene, included several minutes of unintelligible yelling when the two officers first entered the basement. They testified that once inside the basement, they saw, the first alleged victim run toward them, the second alleged victim duct-taped to a post and Cope standing between the two.

Both Ishpeming officers testified the alleged victims seemed “hysterical” and had to be calmed down before being interviewed.

The audio also captured Hart stopping Sadowski outside The Martial Way and asking to be allowed into the building.

After initially refusing and telling the police they needed a search warrant, Sadowski let the men in. When asked if he had a basement, he said no. Upon being confronted with the fact that Hart had discovered a stairway that led into a basement that had a female voice coming from it, Sadowski said the building did have a basement but that it wasn’t his. He also told Hart there was no one in the basement.

A number of photographs showing the injuries of both women and duct tape still wrapped around the second alleged victim’s right wrist were also entered into evidence.

Cope’s defense attorney Karl Numinen focused his cross examinations on attempting to connect any of Cope’s potentially criminal acts with orders from Sadowski.

While the alleged victim agreed with many of Numinen’s assertions – that Cope had only duct taped the women when told to by Sadowski, that he had offered both women Xanax and food, that his demeanor changed from aggressive to helpful when Sadowski would leave the room – she disagreed that he seemed afraid of Sadowski.

“I don’t believe he was scared for his life,” the woman said. “I believe he was scared for his freedom.”

The woman said Cope knew things had “gone too far.”

While cross examining the three police officers, Numinen showed the woman had said to police Cope never assaulted her or the other alleged victim.

Numinen also pointed out that when police entered the basement Cope immediately complied with the officers’ commands to get down on the ground.

Timothy Quinnell, Sadowksi’s lead counsel, has a unique situation in that not only is he fighting against a prosecutor attempting to prove Sadowski is guilty, but also against a co-defendent who is alleging his only criminal acts were done under duress, at the behest of Sadowski.

Sadowski, meanwhile, is asserting his innonence on all the charges.

During his cross examination of the alleged victim, Quinnell asked her a series of questions pertaining to his story of the events of that morning, a story that is drastically different from hers.

During Quinnell’s questioning, the woman denied she or the other alleged victim had also stolen jewelry and marijuana from Sadowski, and had attempted to steal the money again after initially returning it to him.

The woman also denied to Quinnell that the women and Sadowski had a conversation about drug use, that the two women had smoked cigarettes and drank vodka with Cope in the basement, that the two women had taped themselves to the posts or that they had gotten into a physical altercation over whether to return all of the stolen goods to Sadowski.

The alleged victim did testify that she had possibly screamed at the second woman to give Sadowski back his money.

Throughout the day’s testimony, the amount of money stolen differed, with the woman testifying $4 had been taken, but telling Ray in the video $13 was stolen.

Quinnell and Fulsher asked the police officers if they saw any injuries to Sadowski’s hands. They testified they saw none.

Testimony continued today with Ishpeming Police Department Chief Dan Willey, and the playing of the audio of the second alleged victim’s Marquette County District Court preliminary examination testimony.

The second alleged victim died Sept. 8 from an accidental prescription medication overdose, according to the death certificate on file with the Marquette County Clerk’s Office.

It is The Mining Journal’s practice not to disclose the names of victims or alleged victims of criminal sexual conduct.