The paranoia defense?

March 1, 2013
Sharon Kludy testifies against her ex-husband, the defendant.

Sharon Kludy testifies against her ex-husband, the defendant.

By Lisa Enos 
MCP Correspondent

LUDINGTON — Mark McCallum will take the stand Friday in an attempt to prove he did not kidnap his children— a crime he is charged with — when he drove them to Key West, Fla. last year. McCallum has spent a fair amount of time attempting to show that Anna Appledorn of Child Protective Services and Michigan State Police Trooper Sammy Seymour acted in bad faith and failed to properly conduct an investigation of alleged child abuse of McCallum’s son by the child’s mother, Sharon Kludy. McCallum’s argument being, had they done their job, everyone would know that McCallum had no choice but to leave town with the children.

McCallum stated he didn’t want to get the child’s mother in trouble, only that she seek counseling for her alleged abuses. McCallum has stated several times during questioning that he recorded a conversation with Kludy during which she admitted to the abuse, but that this recording, his key piece of evidence, has been lost by the police investigating the case.

Kludy testified Thursday that she did indeed make a promise to not abuse the boy, but that it wasn’t an admission of guilt in having ever done so before.

“To appease you I said OK, I didn’t even know what you were talking about,” Kludy said.

McCallum has mentioned two recording devices several times and contends that these recording devices, if found, will prove his innocence. McCallum said they were left in the Chevy Tahoe he drove to Florida when he was arrested. The vehicle— owned by Don Janish and allegedly used without his permission — was to have been impounded and searched, said Key West police officer Todd Stevens, who apprehended McCallum.

A mock prison fence and signs appeared in McCallum's yard last winter when the children were taken.

A mock prison fence and signs appeared in McCallum’s yard last winter when the children were taken.

Stevens gave testimony Thursday via video conference. He described the arrest of McCallum and the children being visibly shaken and crying when their father was arrested and taken away from them. Stevens said the children appeared otherwise well cared for.

Stevens said he did not see any tape recorders in the car, but that the car was full of clothes and car seats and other items, and that it was not his job to conduct an inventory of the items in the car. A full police processing of the vehicle may not have been carried out before the vehicle was returned to Janish. Stevens said that the items in the car would most likely have been turned over to Mason County Sheriff’s Detective Sgt. Tom Posma of Mason County.

There were some items of value inside the Tahoe, including a silverware set with a value of $7,000 to $8,000. The silver set belonged to Richard Puffer, who testified via telephone from New Mexico. According to Puffer, McCallum took the silver from Puffer’s Hamlin Township home without permission. McCallum acted as a caretaker for both Puffer and Janish who typically spend winters in the South, so he had keys to the houses from which he took the items. Authorities believe McCallum may have intended to sell them.

Puffer said that for five years McCallum was his “right hand man.” Puffer spoke kindly to McCallum and stated that he had never had any prior problems with McCallum.

Sharon Kludy was called to the witness stand again and questioned by McCallum about the alleged abuse of their son. Kludy said that she was aware of bruises on her son’s leg — the same bruises that are noted in the initial CPS report. She said she noticed them before she dropped the boy off with McCallum, who then reported the bruises right away.

Judge Cooper listens.

Judge Cooper listens.

Kludy’s testimony indicates that the bruising most likely did not occur while the boy was in McCallum’s care. Kludy offered an explanation that the injury may have occurred on an escalator in a Grand Rapids shopping mall, a theory rejected by those who invested the child abuse allegation. Kludy also said she knew that her son had stated twice in a CPS report that, “Mommy did it,” but she wasn’t all that concerned about it.

“In your mind you twist things around and make it more than it is and you make yourself think it’s true. I’ve never hurt my son. I’ve never hurt him,” Kludy told McCallum. “You think the whole world is against you. You’re extremely paranoid and you always have been. You always think everyone is against you. You think everyone has the worst intentions.”

The jurors may tend to agree with Kludy that paranoia played a role in McCallum’s decision to drive the kids to Florida. Does he have to prove if Kludy posed an actual threat or a percieved threat in order for the jury to find him not guilty of the kidnapping charges?

And will that be reason enough for jurors to find him innocent of kidnapping?

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