Prosecution rests its case in torture trial

MARQUETTE – The prosecution wrapped up its case Thursday in the Marquette County Circuit Court trial of two Ishpeming men accused of torturing 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.

Sadowski allegedly beat, threatened and duct taped two women to posts for hours in the early morning of July 2 inside his home and business inside The Martial Way.

Cope is alleged to have taken part in duct taping the women, but neither alleged victim has said he ever assaulted them.

In court Thursday, Marquette County Prosecuting Attorney Matthew Wiese questioned Ishpeming Police Department Chief Dan Willey on a number of photographs depicting the scene in the basement and in Sadowski’s bedroom/office area, as well as a slew of items recovered from the building located on Cleveland Avenue in Ishpeming. All the items and photos were entered into evidence.

However, not taken into evidence was the sword the second alleged victim said had been used to usher her and the first woman into the basement.

When questioned by Sadowski’s defense attorney Timothy Quinnell on why it was missing from evidence, Willey told him he didn’t want to fill up his evidence room with “lots of junk” and that without knowing for certain which sword was allegedly used, he left them all behind.

“There was a lot of knives and swords in his whole building,” Willey said. “I didn’t want to take all of them.”

Quinnell also questioned why no fingerprint evidence was recovered from either Sadowski’s bedroom or the duct tape recovered from the basement – which included strands of used tape as well as the actual roll.

Willey said with no dispute that Sadowski and Cope lived in the building, and therefore would likely have fingerprints on the duct tape, and no dispute that the women had been found by police in the basement with duct tape and duct tape residue on them, he felt it was unnecessary to look for fingerprints.

It was also revealed by Cope’s defense attorney Karl Numinen that as they processed the scene, police had found a 9 millimeter semi-automatic weapon under a pillow on Sadowski’s bed, fully loaded and with one bullet ready in the chamber.

Numinen entered into evidence photographs of the gun as well as a prescription pill bottle for Xanax that belonged to Cope. Both alleged victims have said Cope gave them Xanax.

The second alleged victim, – who died Sept. 8 from an accidental prescription medication overdose, according to the death certificate on file with the Marquette County Clerk’s Office – was still able to tell her version of events to the jury.

The woman’s voice reverberated throughout the courtroom as Wiese played her Marquette County District Court preliminary examination testimony from July 17, just days after the alleged incident took place.

The second alleged victim told a similar story to the first woman’s, testifying Sadowski had beaten them, duct taped them to posts in the basement and made several death threats against them because the pair had stolen money from his wallet.

She also agreed with the first alleged victim in that Cope never assaulted either woman and was less aggressive when Sadowski left the room. She even went to far as to say she would not “blame” Cope for being afraid of Sadowski.

The woman testified she kept pleading with Cope to not let her die. She said she believed throughout the night that “I was going to be killed. That I was dead.”

However, the two women’s stories did have some marked differences, namely in alleged acts that led to the criminal sexual conduct charge against Sadowski.

The first alleged victim denied during her testimony this week that she had ever searched the second woman’s body for any stolen money, though she did say Sadowski wanted her to.

The second alleged victim said in her district court testimony played for the jury Thursday that the first woman had searched her twice.

The second woman also denied ever smoking marijuana with Sadowski, though the first alleged victim had testified this week that the second woman and Sadowski had done that.

Following the audio of the second woman’s testimony, Wiese rested his case.

With just under an hour left in the day, Quinnell called his first witness – Sara Pietro, Sadowski’s ex-wife.

In the few minutes she was able to testify, she offered a strikingly different version of events than the one given by the two women.

Pietro said she stopped by The Martial Way to pick up Sadowski so they could go out to breakfast. She said she saw both alleged victims at roughly 5 a.m. July 2 in the basement drinking what she assumed to be vodka with Cope and not tied up in any way.

Because Pietro said Sadowski had company, she said she would come back later and the two could go to breakfast.

Pietro said she returned to The Martial Way later only to find police tape across the door and an officer standing guard outside.

She testified at some point between 9:30 a.m. and 10 a.m. she spoke with Willey outside the building and he told her some serious crimes had taken place there, that “the women should have come out in body bags.”

Pietro also said she spoke with a different Ishpeming police officer at roughly 1 p.m., who asked to search her vehicle, which was parked outside The Martial Way. When she said he would need a warrant, she said he told her she could be charged with conspiracy. She said the police officer told her “they didn’t care which charges” stuck for Sadowski, that they would make sure he went to jail “for a long time.”

She also said she found on July 3 a number of items she believed to be important evidence left behind by the police’s search July 2.

Pietro testified she recovered broken fake fingernails in Sadowski’s bedroom and an empty evidence bag marked “duct tape and gloves” in the basement. Both items were entered into evidence by Quinnell.

The first alleged victim wears fake fingernails, and testified she had been wearing some that night.

Testimony continued today with further testimony from Pietro. Sadowski is also expected to take the stand in his defense.