116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS - A Cedar Rapids woman was convicted Friday of kidnapping and repeatedly beating a 15-year-old girl, who endured what a doctor described at 'torture” for more than nine months in 2019.
A jury found Mary Jane Jackson Thomas, 47, guilty of first-degree kidnapping, second-degree kidnapping and two counts each of willful injury causing serious injury, willful injury causing bodily injury and going armed with intent.
The jury deliberated about two hours Friday following a three-an-a-half-day trial in Linn County District Court before returning a guilty verdict on all counts.
Jackson Thomas faces life in prison without parole on the first-degree kidnapping conviction.
Jackson Thomas, originally from Micronesia, in a videotaped police interview played for jurors Thursday, admitted that she repeatedly slapped, scratched, bit and struck the teen with a hammer and extension cord, but she didn't admit to kidnapping - confining - the teen against her will.
The woman, in the police interview, blamed the teen for being 'bad” and causing Jackson Thomas to punish her. She said the teen wouldn't listen to her and lied as the reasons she punished her from Jan. 1 through Oct. 11, 2019.
Cedar Rapids Police officer Sarah Lacina testified Thursday that Jackson Thomas admitted to scratching the girl's face and mouth, biting her face and shoulders, whipping her with an extension cord and hitting the girl's arm and back with a hammer.
The teen, now 17 and also from Micronesia, testified Wednesday about the abuse. She said she would tell Jackson Thomas she was sorry and 'beg her to stop.”
The worst beatings, she testified, came when she was locked in the bathroom, forced to strip off her clothes and stand in the bathtub while Jackson Thomas beat her. Those beatings, she said, lasted for hours.
The prosecution argued that confinement was kidnapping.
The teen ran away four or five times but said she had nowhere to go. She would just go to the alley in back of the house or stay away from the home for hours. Jackson Thomas would usually go find her and bring her back.
The one time the teen didn't return was Oct. 11, 2019. She was beaten that day and then Jackson Thomas went to the store.
The girl left the home and walked to a Cedar River bridge, where she contemplated suicide but instead went to the Cedar Rapids Police Department, who took her to medical treatment and interviewed her.
During the trial, a police officer, crime scene investigator and physician assistant testified about the teen's numerous abrasions, bite marks, scratches, puncture wounds, bruising and scarring on her upper body. Photos showed her back was covered in injuries.
Amber Cress, a physician assistant at Mercy Medical Center, testified she could immediately see that the teen had been abused over time because numerous injuries were in various stages of healing and she had many scars from older injuries.
Cress said she took the unusual step of taking photos of an emergency room patient's injuries because 'I didn't know how to describe them - because there were so many.”
Jackson Thomas didn't testify and her lawyers didn't call any witnesses. The defense argued the child abuse wasn't as severe and didn't meet the elements of kidnapping - confining or removing a person from one place to another.
Mike Lahammer, one of her lawyers, conceded she could be considered guilty of a lesser charge - assault causing bodily injury.
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