116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS - Ordinary items found in the home - a fork, extension cord, hammer and screwdriver - were 'instruments of torture” for a 15-year-old Cedar Rapids girl who was beaten repeatedly, a prosecutor told Linn County jurors in his opening statement Wednesday.
Assistant Linn County Attorney Andrew Powers said jurors would hear the teen recount the physical abuse she endured from Jan. 1 to Oct. 11, 2019, as abuse by Mary Jane Jackson Thomas went from slaps and hits to something more 'sinister.”
The teen was forced to strip off her clothes and stand naked in a bathtub while Jackson Thomas beat her with an extension cord and a hammer, Powers said.
The girl was hit so hard at times the extension cord would break. The bathroom door was locked, and the girls couldn't leave until Jackson Thomas was finished.
Jackson Thomas, 47, is charged with first-degree kidnapping, two counts of willful injury causing serious injury, two counts of willful injury causing bodily injury and two counts of going armed with intent.
The trial is expected to wrap up Friday in Linn County District Court.
The teen, now 17, testified Wednesday about how Jackson Thomas, a relative, also would slap, scratch and bite her face and head, as well as other body parts.
The jury was shown numerous photos of the injuries, and the teen identified her abuser as Jackson Thomas.
The worst beatings, the girl testified, were the three or four beatings in the bathroom, which went on for hours. The first one happened after she ran away from home.
The teen said she would 'beg her to stop” and said she didn't know why she was being beaten.
Jackson Thomas seemed to change after New Year's 2019 and mentioned how much the teen resembled her mother, who still lives in Micronesia. The teen moved from Micronesiato Minnesota when she was 12 and moved a few years later to Cedar Rapids.
Jackson Thomas would talk about the teen's mother while scratching and biting the teen's cheeks, forehead and jaw, the girl testified.
The teen had run away before, but the one time she didn't go back was Oct. 11, 2019. Jackson Thomas got up about 11 a.m., which was typical, and was in a bad mood and angry, the teen said.
Jackson Thomas yelled at her and then scratched her face and chest and ripped her shirt.
This abuse continued until Jackson Thomas left for the store. The teen took the opportunity to escape. She first planned to walk to a friend's house but decided to walk downtown to the Cedar River bridge.
The teen said she wanted to kill herself. She contemplated it for 30 or 60 minutes but instead went to the Cedar Rapids Police Department. It was around 9 p.m. by then, and she stayed outside for 15 minutes before an officer came out and told her to come inside. She told the officers about the abuse, and they took her to the hospital for medical treatment.
Earlier, a police officer, crime scene investigator and physician assistant testified about the teen's numerous abrasions, bite marks, scratches, puncture wounds, bruising and scarring in various stages of healing all over her upper body.
Her back was covered in injuries. A few injuries showed visible marks from prongs of an extension cord and moon-shaped wounds from bite marks.
Amber Cress, a physician assistant at Mercy Medical Center, testified she immediately recognized the teen had been abused over time because the injuries were in various stages of healing and she had scarring from older injuries.
Cress took X-rays of the teen's wrist, arms and shoulder bone, and ordered CT scans of her face and head.
Cress said she took the unusual step of taking photos of somebody's injuries in the emergency room because 'I didn't know how to describe them - because there were so many.”
Mike Lahammer, the lawyer for Jackson Thomas, said in his opening statement that his client is guilty of assault causing bodily injury but not of kidnapping and willful injury.
Lahammer said the girl was never confined, and the evidence doesn't support a kidnapping charge. Jackson Thomas hit her the teen with her hands, bit her and hit her with a remote.
The prosecution continues its case Thursday.
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