The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Ironwood sex crimes trial continues


January 30, 2020

Richard Jenkins/Daily Globe

GOGEBIC COUNTY Prosecutor Nick Jacobs, right, questions Ironwood Public Safety Department Sgt. Matt Sterbenz in Gogebic County Circuit Court Wednesday during the trial of Jeremy James Richards.


[email protected]

Bessemer - The trial of an Ironwood man facing several counts of criminal sexual conduct continued in Gogebic County Circuit Court Wednesday.

Jeremy James Richards, 42, is charged with four counts of first degree criminal sexual conduct-personal injury and one count of assault with intent to do great bodily harm-strangulation.

Each of the criminal sexual conduct charges carries a potential life sentence as the maximum punishment.

The charges stem from an alleged incident on May 27, 2019 involving a woman Richards had a casual, sexual "friends with benefits" relationship from roughly early March to the day when the alleged assault occurred.

During the trial, there has been testimony the two began the relationship after meeting on the dating app Tinder, and engaged in various sexual acts and "rough sex" a total of four times, until Richards allegedly crossed a line into something the woman had previously said she wasn't comfortable with.

At some point during the alleged act, the woman began bleeding, according to testimony presented in court. After leaving Richards' residence, the woman attempted to drive herself to the hospital until she was pulled over by a member of the Ironwood Public Safety Department on U.S. 2 near Easy Street. She was then transported by ambulance to Aspirus Ironwood Hospital.

With day one consisting primarily of testimony from the woman Richards was involved with, much of day two testimony focused on the aftermath and ensuing investigation into the alleged assault.

The day began with testimony from Dr. Albert Penney, the physician who treated the woman at the hospital.

Penney testified he was told the encounter began as consensual and then went farther than she wanted to take things, although he acknowledged on cross-examination that he only spoke to the woman and not Richards. He also classified the injuries as "major" if ranked on a scale of major, medium or minor - saying anesthesia was required as there were several lacerations that required stitches to repair.

Penney also testified regarding a condition the woman had previously been diagnosed with that can lower a person's platelet count and reduces their clotting ability, leading a person to bruise or bleed easier. He testified he had no information the condition was present on May 27 and whether that may or may not have contributed to the amount of blood the woman lost.

Along with Penney, the jury heard testimony from IPSD officer Mallory Nelsen and IPSD Sgt. Matt Sterbenz.

Nelsen was the officer who conducted the traffic stop where the woman's injuries were discovered and Sterbenz is the investigating officer in the case.

Nelsen testified she pulled over the woman's vehicle for erratic driving - on Tuesday, the woman testified it was because she was fading in and out of consciousness - and the first thing the woman said was "help me."

She testified the woman was still bleeding and appeared distraught, and that her interaction with the woman largely consisted of the short time between stopping the vehicle and the woman being transported to the hospital.

The jury also watched footage of the interaction from Nelsen's body camera.

In the footage, the woman can be heard saying the interaction was consensual but that "he got a little rough with me and hurt me really bad."

The statement that the interaction was consensual was a major focus in Richards' attorney, Karl Numinen's cross-examination, as he sought to have Nelsen testify she determined the injuries came from a consensual act.

Nelsen and Numinen disputed whether Nelsen telling the responding paramedics that the act was consensual constituted a conclusion she reached or simply relaying information.

Sterbenz testified regarding the process the investigation in the case took - including his interviews with the woman the next day at the hospital and as the case progressed, as well as an interview he conducted with Richards while a search warrant was executed on Richards' house.

"There's a lot to this case. ... My job is to try and get information from both sides and figure out what did happen," Sterbenz said.

Numinen questioned Sterbenz regarding the information he gathered during his interviews and whether the woman told Sterbenz she had told Richards to stop or expressed discomfort, or whether these details were only added at Sterbenz' prompting.

Sterbenz said the woman's initial statement was she initially froze and may not have said anything, but by the end of the conversation she said she had indicated her unwillingness to continue to Richards.

Wednesday also featured a continuation of Numinen's cross-examination of the woman in the case.

Numinen pressed the woman on various discrepancies in her various statements about the events of May 27, arguing she kept changing her story or adding details every time she recounted it.

She denied this claim and insisted she was telling the truth.

Numinen went through instances where she either provided conflicting information or added details.

Sterbenz is expected to continue testifying today during the trial's third day.

Editor's Note: Daily Globe policy is to not identify potential victims in sexual assault cases.


Powered by ROAR Online Publication Software from Lions Light Corporation
© Copyright 2020

Rendered 03/02/2021 22:18