Witnesses testify against McCallum.

February 27, 2013
Judge Cooper, McCallum, Glancy and Spaniola.

Judge Cooper, McCallum, Glancy and Spaniola.

By Lisa Enos, MCP Correspondent.

Ludington — Five witnesses testified Tuesday in the case of the People vs. Mark McCallum, the man charged with kidnapping his two kids during a custody dispute last February. Mason County Sherriff Deputy Mike Hanson, Anna Appledorn of Child Protective Services, Deputy Derrick Wilson of the Mason County Sheriff’s Department, Mike Morrow who works at Great Lakes Automotive and Chris Yeck of Dusty’s Automotive, where McCallum, did business all gave detailed accounts of the events leading up to the arrest of Mr. McCallum in Key West, Fla., where he was apprehended by police a year ago.

An incident in December of 2011 led to an investigation of Sharon Kludy, the children’s mother who was still married to, but separated from McCallum at that time. Michigan State Police and Child Protective Services were called to investigate Kludy after McCallum discovered bruises on his 3-year-old son, which he alleged were the result of physical abuse perpetrated by Kludy.

Dep. Hanson

Dep. Hanson

Anna Appledorn, who works for Child Protective Services testified that four parallel bruises on the boy’s upper thigh were not consistent with abuse, and based on the preponderance of evidence, no charges were brought against Kludy. Appledorn said she was unable to interview the child effectively because questions she asked the child at the onset of the interview established he was not yet at a stage of development where he could cognitively discern the difference between the truth and a lie, and that was normal for kids his age.

“I asked questions like, ‘Would I be lying if I said there was a real live elephant in this room with us right now?’ and he couldn’t tell me whether that was true or a lie,” she said.

Appledorn said she later received a call from Kludy’s lawyer stating that the bruises could have been caused by an escalator.

Another incident of alleged child abuse in late December was also investigated by the Michigan State Police and Child Protective Services after McCallum found bruises a second time, this time on the child’s buttocks. The reason given by Kludy for those bruises was that the child was excited on Christmas night and ran out of the bathroom after a bath, came back in, slipped on the wet floor and fell. The MSP and CPS did not investigate further.

Deputy Derrick Wilson was involved in the investigation of McCallum’s kidnapping

Dep. Wilson

Dep. Wilson

charges as a forensic evidence technician. He told the jury that he had known Kludy while growing up in Shelby. Based on this testimony, McCallum, who is acting as his own lawyer, made a motion to dismiss the case — one of 18 motions to dismiss that he has filed so far.

Deputy Wilson testified that he had visited the McCallum home in Partridge Point in Hamlin Township during a yard sale in 2011, after Kludy filed for divorce and left the home. Wilson said that he asked McCallum why he was selling everything and they talked about the divorce.

“I remember getting in the car with my wife and thinking you’d just wasted 15 to 20 minutes of my life that I was never going to get back.” Wilson told McCallum during cross examination.

“Do you feel that by saying, ‘my time was wasted,’ that disrespects me?” McCallum asked.

“I feel it was an accurate statement,” Wilson said.

“Do you think it’s fair for someone knowing my wife so well, do you believe it’s OK for you to do an investigation against me?” asked McCallum, who then went on to ask if people sometimes take sides in cases like this.

“I take the evidence in the case. I don’t take your side. I don’t take her side. I would leave it up to a jury. I don’t take sides. I investigate. That’s my job,” Wilson said.

Wilson said his work on the case started when he was dispatched to investigate McCallum’s home a few months after the yard sale, at the time of the alleged kidnapping last February. He and Detective Sgt. Tom Posma went to McCallum’s house under the provisions of a search warrant they obtained to help locate the children. Wilson said he could smell gas when they approached the home and that he and Posma entered the home forcibly through a basement door because Posma, who is much taller than Wilson, could see through a high window that one of the gas switches on the kitchen stove was in the on position, and because they could both see through another window that the fireplace was lit.

McCallum, who was not on the witness stand, but directing the cross examination at the time, argued that his furnace was broken and that the burner and fireplace were on in an attempt to keep the home somewhat heated while he was gone, and if Wilson would have put his hand on the top of the stove he would have found that it was warm, not just leaking gas as Wilson insinuated.

“Did you put your hand on the stove to see if it was warm?” McCallum asked.

“No. I did not,” Wilson said.

Wilson said they switched off the gas on the propane tank outside and entered the house where he observed some odd things, like 20 to 30 photographs of the children displayed on McCallum’s bed and the contents of drawers left in piles in an otherwise neat and orderly house.

Wilson testified that he believed it was an “act of God” that the house didn’t explode that day, and made it known that it was his feeling that McCallum was trying to burn his house down intentionally.

Wilson also testified that he had heard some or part of a recording that McCallum played for him while they were both at Great Lakes Automotive where McCallum spent a lot of time. Wilson, off duty at the time, said he did not remember what was on the tape and that he thought it was a recording of a conversation between McCallum and his mother. Mike Morrow, who works at Great Lakes Automotive testified that he remembered the incident, and that Wilson told McCallum to be careful with the recordings he was making.

“I do not remember hearing a conversation of you and your wife talking. Can we listen to the tape?” asked Wilson.

Judge Richard I. Cooper has stated that the recording devices have not been located.

McCallum has stated that the recording that he played for Wilson was made on a digital recording device which he left in Don Janish’s Chevrolet Tahoe, the vehicle in which he drove the kids to Key West. The recording devices allegedly went missing when the car was recovered by the police in Key West. The contents of the tape, McCallum says, are statements made by Kludy, promises that she would no longer abuse the children.

Officer Todd Stevens of Florida will testify later this week and perhaps shed some light on the whereabouts of the recording devices.

In the meantime other tape recordings McCallum made are being transcribed by Mason County Sheriff’s Department employees. These tapes were only recently located. Kludy will not take the stand again until the tapes have all been transcribed and McCallum has a chance to review them.

Other testimony today by Deputy Mike Hanson gave the jury some insight as to McCallum’s mental state at the time he left with the children for Florida. Hanson was the initial officer who tried to make contact with McCallum after Kludy reported that he did not show up to drop off the children.

“I checked Mr. McCallum’s address on Barnhardt Road. Myself and Deputy (Adam) Lamb went up and checked it out. There was no activity. The house was mildly disheveled, and it looked like there had been items removed from the house. There was a mock prison fence with some signs posted on it. It was about 4-foot-tall, about the size of a snow fence with barbed wire.”

Throughout the course of the trial there have been several instances where the jury has had to step out or proceedings are delayed because either Judge Cooper or McCallum’s legal representative David Glancy has had to advise McCallum on legal matters. One such notable incident even had Prosecutor Paul Spaniola stepping in.

One of the photographs McCallum wanted entered into evidence depicted a sign on his front lawn which read, “Mark McCallum, convicted felon.” Spaniola balked at this.

“In trying to protect Mr. McCallum’s right to a fair trial, we have gone to great lengths to keep that (conviction) out of court. Mr. McCallum is acting as his own counsel. That photo can be excised,” Spaniola said.

Judge Cooper explained that since McCallum’s 1986 felony had nothing to do with the present charges, that it was not necessary to inform the jury of it. Furthermore, it was explained to McCallum that by admitting the photo into evidence he may be weakening his case.

McCallum then decided to proceed with admitting the photos of the mock prison fence he put up on his property and yard signs as evidence, but chose to leave out the photo in which the “convicted felon” sign was visible.

Judge Cooper added, “What I see in these pictures, it does create the impression that you’re going off the deep end,” he said. “If you’re aware of the risk, and your desire is to put it in perspective, that is a valid concern. Whether you’re doing yourself a favor or not is up to you.”

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Social worker Appledorn

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