Kansas man sentenced to 40 years in kidnapping case

2013-02-19T15:35:00Z 2013-02-20T00:11:05Z Kansas man sentenced to 40 years in kidnapping caseBy Marisa Kwiatkowski marisa.kwiatkowski@nwi.com, (219) 662-5333 nwitimes.com

HAMMOND | A Kansas man barely seemed to notice as he was sentenced Tuesday to 40 years in federal prison for kidnapping and obstruction of justice.

Even after U.S. District Court Judge James Moody imposed the lengthy prison term, Martin Jonassen continued to ask the judge to let him present and request more information. Jonassen, who represented himself during the proceedings in Hammond federal court, also asked the judge to release him on his own recognizance — a request Moody quickly denied.

"You're done," Moody told Jonassen toward the end of Tuesday's two-hour sentencing hearing.

"Well, you say I am," Jonassen replied. "Thanks for upholding the Constitution and my rights thereof."

A federal jury convicted Jonassen in July of kidnapping and obstruction of justice relating to an incident involving a female relative. He was accused of attempting to take the relative, an adult, from Missouri to his property in Michigan in September 2011.

That relative eventually escaped from a hotel in Portage, sprinted across U.S. 20 naked and darted into a liquor store, where she begged for help. Surveillance footage showed Jonassen chasing and dragging her out of the store, shoving her into his car and driving away.

Portage police were just a block away when the 911 call came in, stopped Jonassen’s car and arrested him, authorities said.

The obstruction of justice charge stemmed from what Assistant U.S. Attorney Jill Koster called Jonassen’s “relentless campaign” of letters and phone calls to persuade his relative to change her story or not testify in court. In 75 recorded phone calls to his wife from jail, Jonassen also appealed to family members to get his relative to retract her statements to police and an emergency-room nurse.

Jonassen offered his relative money, vehicles and property in return for changing her testimony, Moody said.

His efforts appear to have worked. Jonassen's relative wrote several letters to the judge, the most recent dated Dec. 5, recanting her earlier testimony, Moody said.

Jonassen referenced those letters in court Tuesday as he repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and asked for his convictions to be thrown out. He said officials "turned a domestic, religious responsibility into a crime."

Jonassen claimed he was bringing his relative to Michigan because he was upset she was seeing an older "Hugh Hefner-type sugar daddy," according to previous court testimony. Jonassen, who claimed Native American heritage, said he took her out of the liquor store because "firewater" — meaning alcohol — causes problems in their brains.

Jonassen dominated the proceedings with objections to a pre-sentence report, prosecutors' interview with the female relative on the eve of trial and to the proceedings in general. He also said the case should be dismissed because the court lacked jurisdiction.

Jonassen declined Moody's suggestion that he let his stand-by counsel represent him during the sentencing hearing.

"I think I messed up pretty good (at trial)," Jonassen replied. "I might as well keep doing it."

Moody eventually sentenced Jonassen to 40 years in prison followed by five years of supervised release.

Jonassen plans to appeal his conviction and sentence.

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