Ericksen trial wraps up

News

August 29th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

The jury in the Roger Ericksen sex abuse trial went home late Wednesday evening, after hearing testimony and closing arguments that morning and afternoon.

Roger Ericksen testifies at his trial, Wednesday afternoon.

Fourth District Court Judge Kathleen Kilnoski read them their instructions prior to the State’s closing arguments by Cass County Attorney Dan Feistner, which lasted just over 45-minutes, and Defense Attorney Theodore Wonio, whose close lasted for just under 10-minutes. Feistner then offered a 10-minute rebuttal before the jurors were sequestered, at around 6-p.m. It didn’t them long to decide that they would resume deliberations at 9-a.m. Thursday, and possibly render a verdict that same day.

During the afternoon session, jurors heard from witnesses for the defense, most of whom basically characterized the 52-year old Lewis man who served as a foster parent to the alleged victim, as being low-key, with a good sense of humor, yet strict in a parental fashion, as he would be with his own children. Those same witnesses portrayed the 14-year old alleged female victim as someone who had a tendency to tell what amounted to “white lies,” with regard to her homework and other issues. One witness even described the girl as a “drama queen,” who makes up stories just to get attention.

The witnesses also claimed they never saw anything improper going on in the Ericksen home, and were shocked to learn of the allegations. A couple of those who testified for the defense, were even incredulous to the fact Ericksen had sex toys in his bedroom, which he claimed were for the pleasure of himself and his wife. Some of those same sex toys were allegedly used as part of the sexual assault of the teenaged girl.

Late Wednesday morning, jurors heard from Lisa Johnson, with Project Harmony, a child advocacy and protection group, in Omaha. Johnson said she performed medical tests on the alleged victim four days after she was removed from the Ericksen home in July of 2011. Johnson testified that there was no evidence of vaginal tearing, scaring or injury that might occur with a rape or sexual assault, but she added that any lack of evidence may be because of the timing of the tests. A fact reiterated during closing arguments by Prosecutor Dan Feistner.

Ericksen, an Elk Horn-Kimballton High School grad and veteran of the U-S Army, took to the stand Wednesday afternoon, and vehemently denied anything to do the allegations brought against him. During cross-examination by Feistner, Ericksen was asked if there was any reason the alleged victim in the case would make claims he sexually assaulted her. He said it’s his belief his foster child was looking for a way to get back home to her biological mother. Ericksen and his wife Deb, who had been licensed foster care providers since 2005, voluntarily surrendered their license once the allegations became known.