Testimony underway in assault, kidnapping case

Aug. 28—LIMA — Testimony began Monday in Allen County Common Pleas Court in the trial of a Lima man charged with aggravated burglary, kidnapping and felonious assault for allegedly holding a former girlfriend against her will and repeatedly assaulting her nearly a year ago.

Jurors in the trial of Tommie Jefferson, 39, heard directly from the alleged victim in the case, who admitted from the witness stand that she had lied to investigators from the Allen County Sheriff's Office and also under oath during a preliminary hearing about some of the events leading up to her alleged physical abuse at the hands of her ex-boyfriend.

Prosecutors say Jefferson broke into the Sherman Avenue home of Sharon Epley, assaulted her repeatedly and restrained her from leaving the home in the early morning hours of Sept. 4, 2022 and continuing for some 12 hours. Epley testified Monday that she left a part time job at the Village Cafe in Cridersville at 1:30 a.m. on Sept. 4 and went to Sportscasters bar on Findlay Road in Lima for a brief birthday celebration for a friend. She said she had "no idea" that Jefferson would be at the bar.

Epley said her ex-boyfriend approached her and began to yell at her, prompting her to leave the establishment. She said Jefferson was intoxicated when he arrived at the residence later that morning and entered the home uninvited. She said he assaulted her numerous times, causing visible bruising to her eyes, nose, chin, neck and arms and threatening to kill her. Photos of her injuries were shown to jurors on Monday.

"Had he been drinking?" Assistant Allen County Prosecuting Attorney Kyle Thines asked of the defendant.

"Oh yeah. He brought a bottle (of alcohol) with him," Epley replied.

Asked by Thines if she had sexual relations with Jefferson that evening, Epley said she had, "in an attempt to calm him down." The woman said Jefferson then fell asleep and she was able to flee from the home.

Defense attorney Kenneth Rexford, during his cross-examination of the Lima woman, focused on the disparity in the testimony she offered to jurors on Monday versus the version of events she previously told Allen County Sheriff's Office Detective Russ Hunlock.

"When you talked to Mr. Hunlock initially you denied that you had sex with the defendant, isn't that right?" Rexford asked.

"Yes," Epley replied.

"So you lied?" Rexford asked.

"Yes," the woman said.

"And you initially told the detective that you went straight home from work, is that correct?" the defense attorney asked. "But today you testified that you went to Sportscasters after you left work. And you told that same story (about going straight home) under oath at a preliminary hearing, isn't that true?"

"Yes," Epley answered, adding that she failed to mention her trip to Sportscasters because she believed "that it didn't have anything to do with what (Jefferson) did to me."

Testimony in the trial will resume Tuesday morning.