Accused kidnapper defends himself in trial; ex-wife testifies

February 26, 2013
Mark McCallum holds up an exhibit as he addresses the honorable Judge Richard I. Cooper during his trial today at the Mason County Courthouse. To his right is his attorney David Glancy and to his left is Mason County Prosecuter Paul Spaniola.

Mark McCallum holds up an exhibit as he addresses the honorable Judge Richard I. Cooper during his trial today at the Mason County Courthouse. To his right is his attorney David Glancy and to his left is Mason County Prosecuter Paul Spaniola.

By Lisa Enos
MCP Correspondent

LUDINGTON — What originally appeared to be an open and shut case of parental kidnapping took a different turn Monday while defendant Mark McCallum of Hamlin Township, who is on trial in circuit court for violating a child custody agreement, made it clear that his defense is going to hinge on trying to prove that he believed his children were in danger of being harmed by their mother, Sharon Kludy, when he decided to take them out of state last February — all the way to Key West, Florida — and without Kludy’s permission.

McCallum has been in police custody since he was apprehended in Key West a little more than a year ago, two days after he left Ludington with the couples’ children who were two and four years old at the time. Mark and Sharon had been separated for four months at the time. Sharon had filed for divorce in autumn of 2011.

McCallum is charged with unlawfully taking or retaining a child and/or children. Mason County Prosecutor, Paul Spaniola must prove that the defendant took or kept one or more of the McCallum children for more than 24 hours and that he intended to keep them from their mother, Sharon Kludy. Under the provisions of their custody agreement at the time, McCallum was only allowed custody of the children on certain days and he was not allowed to take the children out of the county.

Spaniola told the jury in his opening statements that he believed McCallum had secreted himself and secreted his own car in the garage of Don Janish, whose house McCallum looked after while Janish wintered in Florida last winter.

McCallum, who is defending himself with the legal help of public defender David Glancy, said he did not “secret” his car, that he used Janish’s car because it was a safe vehicle in which to drive the children to Florida. Janish has been asked to appear as a witness in the case and may do so via tele-conference later this week, along with two other remote witnesses, including the police officer who apprehended McCallum in Key West.

McCallum tearfully told the jury in his opening statement, “This is about two loving children being abused and then being taken out of harm’s way by me. After going though the proper channels, I want nothing more than a fair and impartial trial in a court of law. The prosecutor may try to have you believe that I’m trying to pull the wool over your eyes, or to shift blame,” McCallum said. “I am not guilty of the charges of kidnapping against me.”

But when Kludy took the stand she said that McCallum had disappeared with the children once before. He took the children on a road trip to Arizona when he first found out she wanted a divorce, she said. It was at that time she went to the courthouse and got an ex parte’ order, which she said provided her with custody of the children. “I think full physical custody,” she said.

“A few days after he returned he was apologetic,” she said. The couple went to see a lawyer and a bitter battle for custody of the children ensued.

During the course of the divorce, Mark made allegations of child abuse against Sharon. Those were investigated by Child Protective Services and the Michigan State Police.

Is what McCallum did reasonable?

Was there a need to protect the children, and from whom?

The trial continues tomorrow.

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