by RANDY R. COTTON
A preliminary hearing in the case of People vs. Andrew Chezlek took place Wednesday, Sept. 30 in the 63rd District Court of Rockford before Judge Steven Servaas.
The 22-year-old Rockford resident was initially charged and arraigned on charges of kidnapping, unlawful imprisonment, criminal sexual conduct in the second degree and felony arms charges after he allegedly tied up and assaulted his “on again, off again” girlfriend at the home of his parents in Rockford.
Assistant Kent County Prosecutor Monica Jeneske informed the court during the hearing that she was planning to drop the charges of kidnapping and transfer the case to the circuit court in Grand Rapids on several charges including possession of a firearm in the commission of a felony and criminal sexual conduct. She also argued that she would add to the list possession of methadone and cocaine and unlawful imprisonment.
During the initial phase of the hearing, there was debate over the issue of sequestration when Jeneske argued that she would like to ask some of the potential witnesses who were seated in the courtroom. Both sides finally approached the bench and agreed to have witnesses leave.
The 23-year-old Grand Rapids woman who was the victim in this crime was called to the witness stand and was subject to four hours of testimony by both the prosecution and defense. She initially stated, “I am a 23-year-old student and I met him at Grand Rapids Community College when Andrew and I had a class together.” She also testified that Chezlek and she “were in a sexual and romantic relationship since 2007.”
Continuing her testimony, she said they both “used drugs together, including methadone and heroin” and that they “broke up in May of 2008.” Following their separation, she said that they continued to have occasional contact by phone and text message while Chezlek was out of the country.
The victim testified, “[On Thursday, Sept. 3] I was planning to get together with the defendant and was going to hang out and watch a movie at his house.” She said she had been out drinking that night and showed up at the defendant’s home after midnight.
According to her testimony, when she arrived at the Chezlek home, the defendant’s mother and father were home. When she walked in, Chezlek wanted to leave. She testified that she stayed in his bedroom and “assumed he was going to the drug dealers.”
The victim spent the bulk of her testimony describing a night of terror in which she was bound with zip ties, slapped and threatened. She said she was threatened and the defendant said he would kill her.
The victim said she was in the bathroom, the defendant went to get a gun and then came back, “[after moving from the bathroom] He brought the gun back from the bathroom and said that he wants to die and he’s gonna make me shoot him,” she said.
“He put me in the car, cut the zip ties off my ankles, drove around for a bit and arrived at the Mobil station at 14 Mile Road and Edgerton Avenue at around five or six in the morning.”
While at the gas station, had unlocked the door, according to the victim’s testimony. When he was in the building, “I decided to run into the gas station begging the clerk to call 9-1-1.” She said the clerk was terrified.
She said that the defendant “sped out and started punching me and we ended up at the BP gas station at 2770 10 Mile Road, across from Meijer.” The pair then returned to the Chezlek home.
Early in the morning, Chezlek finally decided to untie the victim’s hands “because his dad was up,” according to the victim. “Eventually I whispered to his dad, ‘I need to talk to you.’”
The woman told the prosecutor, “I showed his dad my ankles and wrists.”
The woman completed her summation of that night by telling the court that Chezlek had injected her with a strong dose of methadone with a syringe that he’d brought along while she was on the bed. She also said that the drugs were “cooked up” while Chezlek had gone into the bathroom.
She then testified that she went directly home and did not call the police, because she was scared. In her testimony, she told the court that she called her friend, but he was not up yet, so she left a message.
She said, “I called another friend, and described what happened. I did not call the police.”
The police showed up the next day after the release of the surveillance video from the gas station and the media attention the case was receiving.
Charles “Chip” Chamberlain, the Grand Rapids area defense attorney who is representing the defendant, took his turn at questioning the Grand Rapids woman, and asked about her drug usage habits. She told the defense attorney that the first time she bought drugs was this summer in July, and that she purchased methadone, codeine in the form of two pills in Grand Rapids and snorted it herself. She told the defense attorney she parked downtown alone, and had several drinks at a bar, and then drove herself to Rockford.
While driving, she made one cell phone call to Chezlek, according to her testimony.
She told the defense attorney that during the evening, Chezlek was trying to get her to take shots of Tequila and was looking through her trunk for a first-aid kit.
The final point that she made was that she never saw any bullets, a loaded gun or stun gun in the house and that her seatbelt was off when he placed her in the passenger seat on the way to the gas stations.
Judge Servaas ruled that there was enough probable-cause evidence to forward the case to the 61st District Court in Grand Rapids. No trial date has been set and bond was set at $300,000.