Reporting Joel Thomas
WEATHERFORD (CBSDFW.COM/AP) - The Texas woman, who authorities said was kidnapped and tortured for nearly two weeks by former neighbor Jeffrey Allan Maxwell, took the stand in the 59-year-old’s trial on Wednesday morning. The 63-year-old victim told jurors that she rejected his romantic advances several years ago.
She answered questions with almost child-life mannerisms — nodding or shaking her head vigorously with responses, making very animated facial expressions that changed quickly, and using short or simple answers often in an almost sing-song cadence. She said that Maxwell had occasionally chatted with her when he lived half a mile from her rural North Texas home. But she told Maxwell to keep away after he asked for a kiss twice. “Get outta here and don’t come back,” she said, recalling the words. The first instance came after she borrowed his tractor, the woman testified. Maxwell allegedly asked for a kiss as thanks, which the victim said “felt weird.”
The victim said that she had lived with her mother all her life, even sharing an apartment with her while attending Tarleton State University. She received a degree in education, and continued to live in the family home after her mother died in 1988. But she became reclusive and what some might call eccentric.
Maxwell moved to Corsicana in 2005, about 100 miles away from the victim’s Weatherford home and 50 miles south of Dallas. But prosecutors said that he abducted the woman at gunpoint last March and drove her to his home, where he tortured her on a deep-skinning device and chained her to a bed. Many pieces of evidence were hauled into the courtroom on Wednesday in bags and bins — clothing, blood-stained underwear, locks, pepper spray, duct tape, handcuffs, a leather strap, a leather gag, shoes, sexual devices, a gun, a Bible, the top layer of a mattress — all wrapped in brown, protective paper.
The most notable item in the pile of evidence was a brown piece of angle iron, more than three feet long, with attached stainless steel chains which were allegedly used to bind the victim as she was hoisted into the air by a winch. The evidence was all placed on top of a coffin-sized pine box where Maxwell allegedly locked his victim while he left the house — either for minutes or for hours.
Authorities went to Maxwell’s house 12 days after the alleged kidnapping, acting on tips about the woman’s disappearance. She managed to escape and run outside.
During the trial, the victim was ordered not to mention anything that Maxwell may have said about his missing ex-wife, or any threats that he may have made to burn down her house. The judge gave those instructions without the jury present, asking her if she understood the rules and knew the difference between right and wrong.
After releasing the jury on a lunch break, Judge Trey Loftin gave Maxwell a firm lecture, and threatened to throw him out of court for muttering a few comments “not quite under [his] breath.” Loftin also said that Maxwell was making faces during the victim’s testimony. “You may not harass, annoy or intimidate the witness,” Loftin said firmly, pointing at Maxwell. “You do not have a right to sit in your own trial, if you cause problems.”
Maxwell promised to obey the judge’s commands when the trial resumes on Wednesday afternoon. If convicted in the case, he could face a sentence of life in prison for aggravated kidnapping and aggravated sexual assault.
(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
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