There is no evidence an Aguanga man derived any pleasure from disciplining his children, which is essential to proving the torture charges against the defendant, a defense lawyer told jurors Tuesday.
No one has ever testified that Mansa Musa Muhummed, for instance, giggled while he was beating a child, defense attorney Pete Morreale said.
After five weeks of testimony, lawyers spent the day presenting their closing statements to jurors who are expected to begin deliberations today.
The 55-year-old defendant is charged with torturing seven children, false imprisonment of two wives, and abusing his wives and children. He could be sentenced to seven life terms in prison if he is convicted. Muhummed, a practicing Muslim, says his beliefs allow him to marry more than one woman.
Prosecutor Julie Baldwin said proving torture requires showing that Muhummed inflicted pain on others to experience pleasure.
On a tape-recording that one of his three wives said she made as he hit one of the children, Muhummed said he liked "whooping" the child.
"If that doesn't mean he is getting a kick out of it, I don't know what does," Baldwin told the jury. "Listen to the tape... you will hear in his voice, the pleasure he is getting."
The seven children named in the torture charges were so deprived of food that their growth was stunted and some of them were the size of children half their age, Baldwin said.
Dr. Clare Sheridan-Matney, the head of forensic pediatrics at Loma Linda University Medical Center, had testified they suffered from psychosocial deprivation as a result of not getting the food, love and attention needed to develop and thrive.
Morreale said Sheridan-Matney's testimony does not prove torture.
"We talk about all this stuff, this psychological stuff. Torture is not psychological," he said. "Ms. Baldwin is taking a position that psychosocial deprivation... is the torture."
As for the children's small stature, he said, the explanation is simply that they come from a family of people who are short. Of course they gained weight and got taller over 10 years, he said; children grow.
During the trial, the jury heard testimony from 14 of Muhummed's 19 children and stepchildren who testified that their father beat them with a boat oar, deprived them of food and in some cases made them eat their bodily waste.
The children were starving while Muhummed was eating three meals a day, Baldwin said. There was not a food shortage; Muhummed simply did not want them to eat.
"Mr. Muhummed is all about power, control and dominance," Baldwin said.
Morreale told the jury that some of the children got upset with their father when he could not get their mother, Marva, released from jail in months following their arrest.
One of Muhummed's daughters, in a 2000 letter to her father, threatens to create problems for him, Morreale said.
Muhummed was arrested in April 1999 after a letter alerted Riverside County sheriff's deputies to problems at his home. In her letter, Laura Cowan, one of Muhummed's wives, described abuse and how she and another wife were being forced to live in a garage. Deputies found five people living in a garage without running water, heat or air conditioning.
Cowan testified that Muhummed did not let her bathe for several months, Morreale said. It was during that time that she hid the letter down her pants, he said as he displayed the multipage document.
Morreale encouraged the jury to look at the letter and see whether it had oil or debris on it.
The trial resumes today with rebuttal at the Southwest Justice Center in French Valley.
Reach Tammy J. McCoy at 951-375-3729 or tmccoy@PE.com
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I just received a comment on - Disgusted with the system: Son testifies about beatings and being deprived of food in Aguanga man's torture and abuse trial
From -Laura Cowanlaura_cowan33@yahoo.com
She said -
Hi Ms. Louise Uccio, It's finaly over. And Mansa Musa Muhummed will never harm another child again as long as he lives.He was found GUILTY!!! on all charges. The Justice System prevailed. Thank God. When I went to a domestic violence shelter after the police rescued us, there I met many women who were afraid, ashame and down right scared to procecute their tormenter. They felt like no one would ever believe them. I hope that women out there who are going threw any violence get the strength now anc come fourth. Thank you Jesus. Thank you Holly Mary Mother of God.I'm glad that we made it out alive.
Take careLaura Cowanlaura_cowan33@yahoo.com
I replied to her email address -
Its over !!!
I'll keep you and your family in my prayers that you find your way now that this nightmare is over!