MARQUETTE - During a preliminary examination Wednesday for two Ishpeming men accused of torture, two alleged victims described a horrific night - an ordeal expected more from a movie script than real life.
"It was hell," one of the witnesses testified.
Both alleged victims - a 44-year-old Ishpeming woman and a 30-year-old Ishpeming woman - took the stand Wednesday morning to testify in Marquette County District Court against Jason David Sadowski, 43, and Charles Leroy Cope, 65.
At left, Charles Leroy Cope, 65, listens as his attorney, Karl Numinen argues for his client. Jason David Sadowski, 43, and attornies Dominic Andriacchi Sr. and Jr., look on during a preliminary examination held in Marquette County District Court Wednesday. (Journal photo by Jackie Stark)
The men have each been charged with torture and unlawful imprisonment, related to a July 2 incident that allegedly took place inside Sadowski's Ishpeming business and home. Sadowski has also been accused of criminal sexual conduct, solicitation of murder and assault by strangulation.
Both women testified the evening began when they asked Sadowski for a light for their cigarettes outside Hickey's Bar in Ishpeming and ended when police found them in the basement of his business, The Martial Way, located at 112 Cleveland Ave.
Marquette County Prosecuting Attorney Matthew Wiese called both women to the stand, arguing before District Court Judge Dennis Girard that Cope and Sadowski had mentally and physically tortured the women and should be bound over to Marquette County Circuit Court on all charges.
Both women testified they went to Sadowski's mixed martial arts studio willingly - one, because she wanted to smoke marijuana, which Sadowski said he had, and the other because she was interested in MMA fighting.
Once there, the women said they stole $4 from Sadowski's wallet and split it between the two of them.
They said they ended up confessing to Sadowski what they had done.
One of the women said that's when "things got pretty crazy pretty quick."
According to the first woman to testify, upon learning what they had done, Sadowski punched her "with such intensity" that she "flew off the computer desk chair" she was sitting in, hitting a wall and knocking compact discs to the floor.
"I kept getting punched," she testified, saying Sadowski also punched the other woman in the head.
The second woman - who has a medical condition which causes seizures - began to convulse.
The witness said Sadowski kicked the second woman and told her to stop faking.
Once she stopped seizing, Sadowski allegedly made her search the first woman's body for any additional stolen money, which resulted in the CSC charge.
From there, both women said Sadowski forced them into the basement, where he and Cope - who had been in the basement the whole time - duct taped the two women's wrists around the posts and their heads to the posts.
The first woman described Sadowski as "eerily" calm, "with a smirk on his face all the time, pacing," throughout the hours-long ordeal. Both women testified Sadowski would come and go from the room, sometimes punching them, kicking, choking them or smashing their heads against the posts. Always, they said, he was holding a knife.
The second woman said at one point in the night, she tried to hang herself on the post.
"I gave up, I really did. I was really trying to be strong for (the first woman), and tell her we're going to make it through this, we can do this and we were not going to die in there" she testified, her voice cracking. "But you can only take so much, being tied to a pole so long in a basement where you know damn well nobody is coming, before you give up. And I did. I gave up."
The woman said she apologized to the first woman and looked at Cope, showing him her middle finger before attempting to hang herself with the duct tape.
But the effort didn't work. The second woman said the duct tape ripped from the post and she fell to the ground.
The second woman said Cope "covered" for her with Sadowski, and didn't tell him what she'd tried to do, since he wasn't in the room at the time. She was then duct taped to the post again.
Both women testified that Cope tried to feed them Xanax.
The first woman said she spit hers out.
"I was going to fight for my life," she said.
The second woman testified she took at least three Xanax.
Later in the night, the second woman said Sadowski cut her loose from her post, taking her to a separate room where he told her she had to kill the first woman.
"I tried to befriend him, I really did. I wasn't looking to die in that basement and I wasn't looking for (the first woman) to die in that basement," she said.
After discussing it, the woman said Sadowski told her to go back into the room with the first woman and talk to her.
When she returned to the room where the first woman was still duct taped to a support post, Sadowski and Cope left, giving the second woman the opportunity she needed to find a cell phone and dial 911 for help.
Wiese played the 911 tape in the courtroom. Fear was evident in the second woman's voice as she pleaded with the dispatcher several times to "please get here fast."
"I don't want to stay on the phone. They're going to kill me if they come through the door, do you understand that?" the second woman said to the dispatcher.
Cope's attorney, Karl Numinen, asked questions on cross examination concerning his client's behavior, trying to point out that Sadowski was the alleged aggressor throughout the evening and that Cope never assaulted either woman.
"Mr. Sadowski demonstrated to you, you saw clearly, that he was the one in control of the situation," Numinen said, addressing the first woman. "Even over Mr. Cope."
"Yes, I believe that," she said.
Both women said Cope's attitude would change when Sadowski was in the room, echoing the harder and more brutal demeanor of his "brother," as the women said Cope called him.
Dominic Andriacchi, counsel for Sadowski, asked questions that were meant to establish that both women had robbed from Sadowski - Andriacchi said it was $200 - and that Sadowski was trying to defend his property.
During arguments on bail, Andriacchi said his client had a right to a "citizen's arrest" once he found the women had stolen from him.
"I don't believe there was any unnecessary torture or false imprisonment here," Andriacchi said. "It's clear they committed larceny, for lack of a better term, against the defendant and as the court knows, the defendant or party has a right to make a citizen's arrest on a felony, whether it's committed in his presence or not, and, in this case, it's even clearer because it is committed in his presence."
Girard bound both men over on all charges. They are set to appear in circuit court for arraignment July 26.
Bond was denied for Sadowski and was continued at $500,000 cash or surety per count for Cope. Numinen sought a lower bond amount for his client to allow him to receive treatments for cancer. His request was denied.
Jackie Stark can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242.