This story contains graphic descriptions of violence.
WEATHERFORD (CBSDFW.COM/AP) – When her legs were chained to a bed, as she was locked in a nearly airtight wooden box, and while she was tortured on a deer-skinning device, a North Texas woman was terrified her former neighbor would kill her — but says she never stopped praying.
“I prayed all the time: silently, mentally,” the woman testified Wednesday during the trial of Jeffrey Allan Maxwell, 59, who faces up to life in prison if convicted of aggravated kidnapping and two counts of aggravated sexual assault.
During the 12 days she was held captive, she said, one of her repeated prayers was: “God, don’t let Jeff kill me! God, please spare my life!”
Defense attorneys, who did not make an opening statement, cross-examined the woman Thursday. CBSDFW generally does not identify alleged victims of sexual assault.
The woman told jurors that several years earlier, Maxwell would occasionally chat with her when he lived half a mile from her rural North Texas home outside Weatherford, but she told him to keep away when he started coming on too strong by asking to kiss her. Maxwell moved to Corsicana, about 100 miles away, in 2005.
During testimony, the victim, now 63, said she had been alone in the same house she grew up in since her mother died in 1988. She shunned most visitors. When a water pipe broke during a freeze, the woman said she began using a water hose to fill up jugs to bring into the house rather than having a plumber visit the house. She said she also worried about the expense of the repairs. The same was true when she had an electrical problem and used an extension cord and lamp to provide light to some of her rooms. The woman said she was, until March of last year when she was abducted, “naive about sex.”
When testimony resumed Wednesday afternoon the woman outlined how she was on her way to her monthly visit in town when she said Maxwell pulled up to her house in an SUV. She said Maxwell was peering into her kitchen window as they talked making her self conscious about the water jugs in her kitchen.
She said she steered Maxwell back toward his SUV where he suddenly sprayed her in the face with some substance, then knocked her to the ground. The victim grabbed a barbed wire fence and struggled to hold on as Maxwell began dragging her toward the house and the barbs slashed into her hands. She said Maxwell dragged her to her porch, shackled her hands and ankles, and pulled her inside her home. She said Maxwell hit her twice in the head with a rolling pin over each of her eyes. When asked, on a scale of 1 to 10 how much pain the blows inflicted, the victim said, “Over the left eye, ten. Over the right eye, 15.”
The woman said she was bound with an electric cord from her lamp to a doorknob but managed to escape out the front door as Maxwell rummaged around the backyard. But, she said. Maxwell soon drove up behind her in his SUV as she fled brandishing a pistol and forcing her into the cargo space of his vehicle and putting duct tape over mouth.
The victim said the first thing Maxwell asked her was, “Are you a virgin?” The woman told prosecutors she was a virgin at the time.
The victim says her nightmare began in earnest when they arrived at Jeffery Maxwell’s Corsicana home. She says he was angered because she had held her shackled legs up hoping drivers on the highway could see her during their hour journey to his house. She says she was chained to an iron bar and was hoisted up by her wrists with an electric wench, sodomized and beaten severely.
“I just know he whipped all over my body real hard,” the victim said. “Every direction. He whipped me real hard with that whip.”
It was a beating she would do anything to avoid again. She said she could not survive another beating on “the machine,” as she called it.
“I would have to do what he said to stay alive,” she said. “I didn’t want to die!”
The victim said Maxwell told her during the beating he would only keep her alive for two weeks.
The victim described how she was shackled and locked in a coffin-like box for hours on end. She testified she was repeatedly sexually abused even as injuries over her right eye, shoulder, slashed hands, severely bruised breasts and wrists went largely untreated. She said Maxwell forced her to have oral sex with her and penetrated her, taking her virginity.
“I didn’t want to have sex!” she said emotionally on the stand. “And I didn’t want to be there doing that!”
At one point, she said she was locked in a bathroom where a cell phone was left. The victim said she has never used a cell phone and was afraid to try since she was sure Maxwell would murder her if she was caught trying to escape in any way.
The woman said during her captivity Maxwell convinced her he was hired by her half-brother to “do away with her” and that if Maxwell was arrested another hit man would be hired to kill her.
The victim said she suffers from bronchitis and used as much saliva as possible during a kiss hoping to make Maxwell ill. She said he developed a fever the next day and didn’t attempt to have sex with her for the next few days before her rescue.
Between being locked in the box, where she said several times she felt like she was suffocating, and physical interactions with Maxwell, the victim said she could only lie shackled for 11 days, fearing for her life and repeating a prayer.
“God, Don’t let Jeff kill me!” The victim recalled sobbing from the stand. “Spare my life!!”
She said Maxwell mocked her prayer saying, “It doesn’t look like that’s working.” She said deputies knocked on Maxwell’s door that afternoon allowing her to escape.
The woman initially told authorities Maxwell was her friend and had been good to her. But the woman said Wednesday those statements were not true. She testified that at the time, she was still afraid of Maxwell and was trying to keep her promise of not pressing charges if he let her go. She said it took her a long time to realize she’d escaped.
Earlier Wednesday, jurors saw various items that authorities seized from Maxwell’s house and car, including blood-stained underwear, guns, a long wooden box with a lid, duct tape, pepper spray, whips, handcuffs and a pair of the woman’s shoes.
Defense attorneys have objected to entering the evidence at the trial, questioning whether authorities had obtained proper search warrants before collecting items from Maxwell’s house.
If convicted, Maxwell faces up to 99 years in prison or life and up to a $10,000 fine.
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