Trial ‘moving right along’

At the close of Wednesday’s court session in the quadruple murder trial of Omar Mohamed Kalmio, 28, Judge Douglas Mattson said that counsel had told him that the case is “moving right along” and has given notice that he would like deliberations to be held on a special Saturday session unless any jurors have an important prior commitment.

Kalmio is being tried for the Jan. 28, 2011, murders of his former girlfriend, Sabrina Zephier, 19; Sabrina’s mother, Jolene Zephier, 38; Sabrina’s brother, Dylan Zephier, 13; and Jolene’s boyfriend, Jeremy Longie, 22. Each charge is a class AA felony.

Keri Salmon, a parole and probation officer with the North Dakota Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, who knew both Kalmio and Sabrina through her work, was the first to mention a history of abuse inflicted on Sabrina by Kalmio.

Salmon noted that in a Dec. 22, 2010, meeting with Sabrina, the victim’s “left eye” was injured, although “she wouldn’t allow me to photograph the injury.

“We discussed going over paperwork to obtain a protection plan,” said Ashley Counts, the Children’s Coordinator for the Domestic Violence Crisis Center in Minot, who in testimony corroborated the finding of injury, calling it a “black eye,” and that Sabrina also had scratches and injury to her back. She described Sabrina’s demeanor at their meeting as “sad and afraid.”

“Sabrina came in to our office, she was looking for support, she seemed upset about … the altercation,” Counts said. “Her demeanor coming in was sad, upset, afraid.”

The state brought forth a document that Sabrina had filled out at the Center, and she read several of the answers to the survey aloud which said that she felt depressed but that she had not felt in danger for her life or the life of her infant child.

“She called me and told me that Omar had been beating her,” testified Rochelle Greere, Sabrina’s aunt, who was just one of several people to testify that Sabrina had reached out for support and told people about physical abuse. “She said she was looking for an apartment with security doors … because Omar was trying to get in her house.”

That infant child was a major focus in many testimonies throughout the day Wednesday, which alternated between the controversy of Jolene, the grandparent, claiming the child on her own tax statements to receive a larger refund. Jolene’s money problems have been testified to throughout the trial, with several testimonies revealing that they had made small loans to her on many occasions.

“Were you aware that she was borrowing money from other people at the same time?” defense attorney Thomas Glass asked Gloria Carbajal, who had testified to making small loans to Jolene. Carbajal said that she hadn’t been aware and also said “no” when asked if that surprised her.

Paul Huesers, a tax professional at H&R Block who had prepared Jolene’s tax statements testified that one of her statements was returned 11 months after the murders because “a Social Security number was wrong” for “one of the dependents.”

“I just remember him talking about his girlfriend and how he was disappointed in her” and saying how he felt the family was “irresponsible,” testified Jadon Winter, who supervised Kalmio for a little while in an oil well-site crew, on his first meeting with Kalmio when he picked him up from a work site in Montana back to Minot. “He was giving them money and he didn’t want to do that anymore.”

“I know he didn’t like her but I could tell he cared deeply for the kid,” Winter continued before saying that Kalmio wanted the child to go live with his own mother and sister in Minnesota.

Winters also testified that workers are given the option to use company trucks or their own vehicles.

William Roberts worked for the same energy company as Kalmio, Enseco Energy Services. “I kind of got annoyed wondering who would be so inconsiderate while people were trying to sleep,” he said of the time he was awoken shortly after midnight on the night of Jan. 27, 2011.

Roberts, who also goes by “Sam,” testified that he then went outside the bunkhouse and saw two men sitting in a company truck which he identified because “it had our logo on it and it was a white pickup” and that Kalmio was sitting in the driver’s seat and his brother was in the passenger seat. Another Enesco employee, Brian Kelly, also testified that he was awoken that night by the front door slamming.

Brian Junt, who lives in the Minot apartment above the one once occupied by Kalmio, testified that after days of absence he heard the toilet in Kalmio’s apartment flush, the water run and the exhaust fan come on in Kalmio’s apartment. He said the exhaust fan remained on until police shut it off after the murders.

Three people connected to Kalmio and Sabrina through Job Corps testified that Kalmio had contacted them to ask if they knew how to purchase guns. All three men testified that they did not know.

Only Roseann “Roxy” Battista, who knew Kalmio well, testified that she had seen a gun associated with Kalmio. The two had grown very friendly and he had once taken her to the mall, which is where she saw a “chrome pistol” about a foot long. Glass questioned her recollection levels since she had to refer to copies of her statements to police. In her police interviews she had said that she had found the gun in his Mercedes, but at trial testified that it was his SUV, and remained adamant that it was.

“I think I was being asked too many questions and I think I got confused,” Battista explained as to why she had mentioned the Mercedes in initial police interviews.

“They weren’t shy about (mentioning Kalmio in police interviews) were they?” Rosenquist asked in cross-examination. “They said that he was a suspect.”

The suspicion of leading interviewees was visited well during the testimony of North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation special agent Dale Maixner in Tuesday’s session, which the defense had pointed out as being more of a way to “keep the blinders on” than to maintain an open mind as investigators are supposed to do.

“He wanted to kill … Sabrina, he baby momma,” testified Jemimor Jean, who knew Kalmio from Job Corps, referencing a phone call he had received from Kalmio requesting information on how to obtain a gun. “I didn’t know he was serious, he sounded like he was talkin’ out of anger and I was like, hey, chill.”

“I called him and said your baby-momma died, you know, askin’ if he alright,” Jean said about the phone call he made later to Kalmio after he heard of Sabrina’s death. “But I didn’t hear no emotion.”

“I was looking for a 9 mm (handgun) and that’s what he said he picked up,” Dustin Vise said in testimony. “I was looking for (a gun) at the time that was not registered.”

In cross-examination Vise revealed that he wanted an unregistered gun because of “government restrictions” and fears that his gun would be taken away if it were registered.

The trial continues today at 9 a.m. in the Ward County Courthouse in Minot.