Amish trial resumes: 'Motive revenge, not religion'

5:45 PM, Sep 5, 2012   |    comments
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CLEVELAND -- Federal prosecutors resumed calling their witnesses Wednesday in the Amish hair- and beard-cutting trial. U.S. District Judge Daniel Aaron Polster is presiding.

5:02 p.m. Judge Polster has adjourned the trial for the day and will resume at 9 a.m. 

4:39 p.m. Prosecutors are asking Curvin Wenger, the owner of the New Bedford Sharpening Services, about the clippers and shears he sold to several of the Amish defendants on Oct. 4, 2011, the day of two of the attacks.

Curvin said that he called the Holmes County Sheriff's

4:10 p.m. Defendant Freeman Burkholder's attorney asked Melvin Jr. if he knew why the attacks were carried out. "Because they weren't living right," he replied.

The 16 defendants are charged with crimes related to four attacks that occured between September and November in 2011.

There was one attack on Sept. 6, two on Oct. 4 after the Mt. Hope auction, and one on Nov. 9.

3:34 p.m. Prosecutors call Melvin Shrock Jr., 19, to the stand, who used to live in Bergholz until July 2012. He had been living in Samuel Mullet Sr.'s barn.

His parents are Emanuel and Linda Shrock, both of whom are defendants in the case.

"I was tired of it," Melvin Jr. said, when asked why he left Bergholz.

He testified that a group came to the barn on Sept. 6, 2011, to get the clippers and then they left.

When they returned, Melvin Jr. said he was in Samuel Mullet's house when the group came in from cutting the hair of Barbara Miller and the hair and beard of Bishop Myron Miller at their home in Trumbull County.

Melvin said he never got out of the trailer at the two stops on Oct. 4, 2011, at homes but he heard screams from the houses when the five men were inside the houses.

Melvin Shrock Sr. and Anna Shrock are his grandparents who left Bergholz and moved Fredericktown when Melvin was 10. He said that, in November 2011, Melvin heard that his grandparents were being invited to Bergholz.

3:15 p.m. Federal prosecutors called Michael Kanoski to the stand. Kanoski, a farmer, also drove the Amish around frequently from 1996 through the fall of 2011.

Kanoski said he was the driver of the truck and stock trailer when 27 Amish went up to the Mt. Hope auction on Oct. 4, 2011.

He said he usually used the trailer so there would be a place for the stock that they would buy at the auction. He said that day that he drove 5 in the truck and 22 in the trailer, men and kids, ages 8 or 9 years old.

On that day, he said the 5 in the truck were Johnny, Danny and Lester Mullet, and Levi and Eli Miller going to the auction and leaving the auction.

Kanoski testified that while returning to Bergholz, they made two stops. He said they never told him why they wanted to make a stop.

Kanoski said only the 5 in truck went into the house. He said they came back and got into the truck about 15 minutes later, saying "Let's go."

Kanoski said they had to make another stop before returning to Bergholz. He said Johnny Mullet told him where to go. At the second location, somewhere in Carroll County, the same 5 got out of the truck, went into the house, and came out again 15 minutes later, again saying "Let's go."

It was about midnight Oct. 4, 2011, when they all arrived back in Bergholz and all 27 got ut at Samuel Mullet Sr.'s house. The 27 were in the house for "...45 minutes, about an hour...," Kanoski said.

Kanoski told his wife while he was driving home that "something happened" and when Kanoski pulled into his driveway at home, he said two sheriff's deputies were waiting for him in the driveway. 

2:45 p.m. Judge calls for afternoon break.

2:38 p.m. McVicker said Eli Miller told him about the Hershberger attacks and also said that they were planning on attacking Myron Miller and cutting his beard and hair as well on their way home.

2:28 p.m. Holmes County Sheriff's Detective Robert Jeffrey McVicker testified about his interview with defendant Eli Miller regarding the Oct. 4, 2011 attacks on the Hershbergers.

2:10 p.m. Samuel Mullet Sr.'s attorney Edward Bryan is crossexamining  Det. Fred Johnson.

Johnson said the only thing he knew about the Bergholz community before he interviewed Johnny Mullet was that the Bergholz community "was a breakaway community" that had left the Amish church and started their own community under Samuel Mullet Sr.

Johnson said "yes" when asked by Bryan if Johnny Mullet said he was Samuel Mullet Sr.'s son.

1:50 p.m. Detective Fred Johnson tells the jury what he wrote on his report of the Oct. 4 incident and his later interviews with defendants Johnny Mullet and Danny Mullet.

Johnson said he wrote on his report that the "...motive was revenge, not religion..."

1:40 p.m. Holmes County Sheriff's Detective Fred Johnson expands his testimony to include an interview with Danny Mullet. Danny Mullet was present during the Oct. 4 hair-cuttings but never cut any hair and only held Bishop Raymond Hershberger down while others cut his hair.

Johnson said Danny Mullet said that he wasn't sorry for participating. Danny Mullet is a defendant in this case.

Johnson said Danny Mullet said he was angry at Hershberger because Hershberger was one of the bishops who met and excommunicated Samuel Mullet Sr. 

1:16 p.m. Trial resumes and Holmes County Sheriff's Detective Fred Johnson takes the stand, talking about his interview with defendant Johnny Mullet after the Oct. 4, 2011 attacks.

Said that Mullet appeared "sleepy" at the beginning of the interview but "became more alert, almost angry" as the interview continued.

11:55 a.m. Judge Polster adjourned for lunch until 1 p.m., following a sidebar with a defense attorney.

11:16 a.m. Court resumes after the morning break with Detective Joe Mullet still on the stand. He responds to general questions from several of the defense attorneys who are cross-examining him.

Defendant Linda Schrock's attorney Joe Dubyak questioned Detective Mullet about the difference between the different Amish units, like the difference between the rules that each type of Amish.

When Dubyak tried to question the detective on the rules about smoking and consuming alcohol, federal prosecutors objected and Judge Polster sustained the objection.

Bishop Samuel Mullet Sr., 66, and his 15 co-defendants are accused of targetting the hair and beards of the Amish men and women that had left Mullet's Bergholz community after disagreeing with Mullet's beliefs in their religion.

U.S. Attorneys say the attacks were motivated solely by religious disagreements between Amish bishops and the breakaway Bergholz group.

Mullet himself has described what happened as internal church disciplinary matters and say the government shouldn't get involved.  

10:53 a.m. Morning break called by Judge Polster.

10:44 a.m. Detective Mullet said that suspect Levi Miller admitted Oct. 12 to cutting the hair and beards.

The detective asked him if he was sorry for what he did and he said yes.

"Then I asked him if he was sorry for doing what he did or sorry for getting caught and Levi said 'Both...because if I knew I was going to be caught, I would have cut a lot more beards,'" Detective Mullet said.

10:25 a.m. Detective Mullet identified the bags of hair that were collected the morning of Oct. 5, 2011, from the Hershberger house.

10:10 a.m. Detective Mullet said not only did Bishop Raymond Hershberger have his hair and beard cut but that Andy Hershberger, the bishop's son, had a "...chunk of hair cut from his head..." and Levi Hershberger was "..holding his ribs, as if he was injured..."

10:05 a.m. Mullet said he was sent to the call on Oct. 6, 2011 and first saw Levi Hershberger in the front yard. Mullet spoke with him and Levi said "They gave Grandpaw a bad haircut..."

Deputy Mullet asked Levi whom he was referring to and Levi replied "The Bergholz boys...."

Prosecutors accuse 15 members of the "Bergholz clan" of participating in the five attacks in 2011 and accuse Bishop Samuel Mullet Sr. of ordering the attacks. 

9:51 a.m. Prosecutors called Joe Mullet to the stand, no relation to any of the Mullet defendants.

9:40 a.m. Jefferson County Sheriff's Lt. Mark Clark takes the stand and testifies about phone calls made from the jail in the sheriff's custody by some of the defendants who had been arrested. And the recordings were made by three defendants on Oct. 9, 2011.

9:20 a.m. Zimmerly determined from talking with his Detective Joe Mullet, who spoke Pennsylvania Dutch and understood what the victims were saying, that the suspects were headed back to Bergholz in Jefferson County.

Zimmerly called Jefferson County Sheriff Fred Abdalla and the vehicle with the suspects was stopped.

Zimmerly said he was investigating the incident and charges were filed about a week later.

Zimmerly was cross-examined by three defense attorneys, including the attorney for Bergholz clan leader Samuel Mullet Sr., accused of being the instigator of all of the attacks on fellow Amish.

Sixteen men and women have been accused of taking some part in the five attacks on other Amish. Mullet, 66, and some of his followers are accused of attacks in 2011 against Mullet's religious enemies.

9:10 a.m. Their first witness was Holmes County Sheriff Tim Zimmerly, now in his 20th year as sheriff. He said the county has approximately 45,000 people and half of them are Amish.

He said that Holmes County has the largest population of Amish in the United States.

He began by relating what happened on the evening of Oct. 4, 2011, just after 9:30 p.m.

He was called to the home of Raymond Hershberger for a "home invasion and some assaults." That was the night that a group of Amish from Bergholz entered the Hershberger's home and cut the hair and beard of Bishop Raymond Hershberger and the hair of his wife.


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