Jurors Begin Deliberations In Kidnapping Case

MAYVILLE — With the defense resting and closing arguments heard Thursday afternoon, jury deliberation began in the 2016 alleged kidnapping of a 13-year-old autistic boy.

Jurors deliberated for close to four hours but didn’t reach a verdict before the end of the day. The five men and seven women who make up the jury will resume deliberation this morning in Mayville.

Jurors heard closing arguments in the case that alleges Samuel Saeli kidnapped the boy from Wal-Mart 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 first took to the podium to discuss why jurors should find Saeli not guilty of the charges. Daryl Brautigam, defense counsel, told the jury the prosecution didn’t prove a kidnapping occurred. In addition, he said the prosecution never brought an officer who investigated the incident to testify.

He also said statements were never taken from Wal-Mart employees nor Saeli regarding the incident. There also wasn’t a search of Saeli’s car after the alleged kidnapping.

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

Brautigam acknowledged Saeli made a judgment mistake. But he said the accusations against Saeli weren’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. “There’s no kidnapping here and there’s no proof of the intent other than Sam tried to return (the boy) to a place where he was thought to have resided.”

Before closing statements, the defense asked the Hon. Paul Wojtaszek to downgrade the charge to second-degree unlawful imprisonment. The prosecution disagreed with the defense and the judge denied the request.

During the prosecution’s closing statement, First Assistant District Attorney Andrew Molitor showed jurors clips from the night of the incident involving Saeli and the boy at Wal-Mart. Footage showed the boy and his family as well as Saeli entering the store.

Video also showed an encounter between Saeli and the boy at the toy aisle and the time when they left the store.

Molitor told jurors that Saeli didn’t look for the boy’s parents and didn’t go to store employees or the police for help. Molitor also said Saeli held the boy for more than 40 minutes.

“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.