A witness for plaintiff Jeffrey Owen testified in a Madison County trial on Tuesday that her 15-year-old daughter and the girl's father did not have a good relationship.
Owen, the executive director of the Hayner Public Library System in Alton, is seeking damages in excess of $300,000 and costs for injuries he claims to have suffered at the hands of Madison County Sheriff's deputies who came to his Godfrey home in October 2008 to take custody of his cousin Debbie Frakes' 15-year-old daughter, Maggie, to give custody to the child's father, Mark Frakes.
Owen claims he was kicked by the deputies. He also claims he was forced to move his arms into a position which exacerbated a medical condition and caused him to undergo surgery.
Witness Debbie Frakes, Owen's cousin and the girl's mother, was jailed at the time the deputies came to take custody of the child.
Frakes testified that her ex-husband had not been exercising his visitation rights.
"Jeff was in Maggie's life, and Mark had not been for several years," Frakes said. She said she believed Owen's home was a safe place for her daughter.
Owen's mother, Carol Ann, lived with Owen at the time of the incident, but has since passed away. Her testimony was read in court Tuesday.
According to her testimony, Carol Ann Owen, who was 72 years old at the time of the incident, suggested to her son that that they call an attorney to find out if it was alright to turn Maggie over to her father.
Carol Owen testified that she saw a deputy kick her son twice. She also testified that she told officers that her son could not move his arms due to his thoracic outlet compression syndrome.
Owen's sister, Deidre, testified she received a phone call from her brother that she needed to come right away. She saw her mother was upset when she arrived.
"When I saw my mother and her condition, I fell apart as well," Deidre Owen said.
Defense attorney John Gilbert told the jury on Monday when two Madison County deputies arrived at Owen's home on the night of the incident, they were trying to do their job, but Owen interfered.
"What could have been a simple check on a 15-year-old girl and transfer to her father turned out to be a complete train wreck for which Jeff Owen was the conductor," Gilbert said.
"What you will see is how it could have gone better. These guys had to make a split second decision," he explained.
"When Maggie's dad found his daughter was in Jeff's custody, he wanted to pick up his daughter," Gilbert said.
Maggie's father had a valid custody order and wanted the sheriff's department to accompany him when he picked her up, according to Gilbert.
"No one disputes that Jeff has thoracic outlet compression syndrome," Gilbert said. "He didn't tell officers about his condition."
Owen is represented by Jarrod Beasley.
The case is expected to continue Wednesday.
Madison County Case Number 09-L-522.