Weatherford Democrat

Local News

February 22, 2012

Jury finds Maxwell guilty

PARKER COUNTY — A Parker County jury found Jeffrey Allan Maxwell guilty Tuesday on charges of kidnapping and sexually assaulting his former Whitt neighbor.

After about 45 minutes of deliberation Tuesday afternoon, the six-man, six-woman jury returned to the courtroom shortly after 5 p.m. and delivered verdicts of guilty on all charges, including aggravated kidnapping and two charges of aggravated sexual assault.

Jurors heard nearly five days of testimony alleging the 59-year-old Navarro County man abducted his former 61-year-old neighbor from her Whitt home at gunpoint on March 1, 2011, severely beat and humiliated her, repeatedly sexually assaulted her, and held her at his Corsicana home for 12 days.

The woman, who the Democrat is not identifying because she is the victim of a sexual assault, told jurors she’d rejected repeated advances by Maxwell before he moved away from her neighborhood in 2005 but had not seen him since until he showed up at her house in 2011.

Left tied up in her house while Maxwell went outside, bruised and bleeding from an earlier struggle, she escaped and nearly made it to a family member’s driveway when Maxwell chased her down and put her in the cargo area of his vehicle at gunpoint, she told jurors.

According to testimony presented to jurors, the woman made repeated attempts to escape as Maxwell abducted her. Maxwell reportedly stripped the woman in his garage and hung her from an iron bar and winch system he described as a hog-cleaning device. As she hung there, he sexually assaulted her while beating her with whips and attaching clamps to her nipples, the woman told jurors.

When Maxwell left the house for a couple hours, according to testimony, he put the woman - gagged and shackled hand and foot - in a solid wooden box she called “the coffin.”

The woman told jurors she underwent repeated humiliations, sexual assaults and other abuse over the course of her abduction while believing Maxwell was eventually going to kill her.

After investigating a fire that destroyed the woman’s home March 3, investigators went to Maxwell’s home in Corsicana on March 1. There the woman walked out of the house behind Maxwell, who had told investigators he had not seen her in years, according to evidence presented to jurors.

Testimony in the first phase of the trial ended just after noon Tuesday after two forensic analysts testified regarding DNA and bodily fluids located on many items of evidence seized from the house and a vehicle.

Many blood stains, other stains and biological evidence collected from some items throughout the house and a vehicle tested positive for DNA matching the woman, according to evidence presented to jurors.

A forensic scientist with a Texas Department of Public Safety crime lab testified - among their findings - they located apparent blood stains from the winch, rope and cable, which prosecutors said was used to hoist the woman in the air as Maxwell severely beat and sexually assaulted her the day he kidnapped her. The DNA profile in the stains matched the woman’s, according to testimony.

Shortly after assistant district attorneys Jeff Swain and Kathleen Catania rested their case, Maxwell told 43rd District Judge Trey Loftin that he did not want to testify or put additional evidence for the jury.

Catania compared the story presented to jurors to a Stephen King or Stieg Larsson novel during closing arguments.

“This isn’t some theoretical story,” Catania told jurors. “This is somebody’s life.”

Court-appointed defense attorneys Rick Alley and James Wilson argued during closing statements that jurors should take a close look at the evidence and apply the law.

Wilson argued that Maxwell did not give a free and voluntary statement to investigators in a recording played for jurors. Maxwell’s defense attorneys repeatedly objected to the introduction of three recorded interrogations in which Maxwell admitted to abducting and sexually assaulting the woman.

Alley argued investigators did an illegal search of the house. He also said the woman’s initial statements to investigators immediately after exiting the house behind Maxwell, stating he didn’t do anything, should give jurors doubt.

Maxwell’s actions were monstrous, unimaginable and inhuman, Swain told jurors, calling them to hold him accountable.

Testimony in the punishment phase of the trial was expected to begin Wednesday morning.

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