Deliberation underway in kidnapping case

MAYVILLE – Jury deliberation is underway in an alleged kidnapping case dating back to last year.

Jurors heard closing arguments in the case that alleges Samuel Saeli kidnapped a 13-year-old autistic boy from Walmart on the evening of Aug.14,2016. Saeli, 38, is facing a second-degree kidnapping charge. He’s also facing a sexually-motivated felony related to the alleged kidnapping.

The defense began closing statements as Daryl Brautigam, defense counsel, said the prosecution couldn’t show a kidnapping occurred. He said the prosecution never brought an investigating officer to the stand to testify.

He also said statements were never taken from Walmart employees nor Saeli regarding their sides. There also wasn’t a search of Saeli’s car after the incident.

“They (the prosecution) didn’t do their job,” he said.

Brautigam acknowledged that Saeli made a mistake in judgement. But he said the crime accused against Saeli wasn’t proved beyond reasonable doubt. He also acknowledged there’s no proof that Saeli took the boy to satisfy a sexual desire.

“There’s a big hole in this case,” Brautigam said.

Before closing statements, the defense asked the the Hon. Paul Wojtaszek for a second-degree unlawful imprisonment charge. He subsequently denied the request.

First Assistant District Attorney Andrew Molitor showed jurors clips from the night of the incident involving Saeli and the boy. Footage showed the boy and his family as well as Saeli entering the store. Video also showed the initial encounter between Saeli and the boy and the time in which they left and went to his car.

Molitor told jurors that Saeli held the child for more than 40 minutes, and he did so for his sexual gratification.

“He wanted to be alone with (the boy),” Molitor said.

Molitor said Saeli then discarded the boy on Cushing Street in Fredonia as Saeli didn’t want to be caught.

Deliberations began just after 12:30 p.m. The five men and seven women on the jury will need to be in consensus in order for there to be a guilty verdict on both charges.