MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- The abduction case against James Sarff went to a jury after prosecutors called the evidence overwhelming and his defense attorney called some of the evidence "unmitigated nonsense."
During closing arguments in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis on Monday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Margaret Burns Magill said the trail of blood, drag marks in the snow and James Sarff's phone call to his sister saying, "I killed her" are overwhelming evidence that Sarff abducted his estranged wife, Connie, from her Minnesota apartment and took her to Mexico.
But Andrew Birrell, attorney for James Sarff, suggested something other than a kidnapping happened in Long Prairie on Feb. 9.
James Sarff, an Eagle Bend farmer who allegedly choked Connie and dragged her from her apartment, then drove to Mexico while she lapsed in and out of consciousness. They were later caught by a suspicious U.S. Customs agent. James Sarff is charged with kidnapping and interstate domestic abuse.
Prosecutors contend Connie Sarff suffered brain injuries after James Sarff choked her. Birrell called that "unmitigated nonsense." He also contended she went to Mexico voluntarily.
But Magill said the testimony of three doctors proves that Connie Sarff was the victim of "a violent, brutal crime."
"He fled, not to save her, not to help her, but to save himself," Magill said. "They were not in Mexico to enjoy the sun."
James Sarff did not testify. The defense called only one witness in the weeklong trial, a cardiologist who said he believed Connie's stroke was not caused by choking.
The jury retired Monday evening without reaching a verdict. Deliberations were expected to resume Tuesday.
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