Man extradited from Europe on rape charges has preliminary hearing

Judge finds probable cause on the charges against Klaus Werner Vonmahr

forwards case

April 19, 2011|By DON AINES |

A former Hagerstown man extradited from Eastern Europe last month to face decade-old rape charges appeared in Washington County District Court Tuesday for a preliminary hearing.

District Judge Mark D. Thomas found probable cause on the charges against Klaus Werner Vonmahr and ordered the case moved to Circuit Court.

Vonmahr, 51, who is being held without bond, is charged with first- and second-degree rape, third-degree sex offense, first-degree assault, three counts of second-degree assault and two counts of false imprisonment, according to court records.

Michael Potter, a retired Maryland State Police investigator, testified Tuesday that a woman stopped a trooper on Frederick Street on Nov. 30, 2000.

"He said she sustained serious injury, and he called an ambulance," Potter testified.

He later interviewed the woman at Washington County Hospital, where he observed injuries including scratches, bruises and swelling to her face. The woman told Potter that she was in a relationship with Vonmahr, separated from him because of domestic violence and then resumed the relationship, he testified.

On Nov. 29 he became angry with her over a scratched computer monitor screen. His mood changed to "very romantic," but she rejected his sexual advances, Potter testified.

The woman said Vonmahr sat on her and demanded to know if she had been in any relationships during their separation, Potter testified.

Vonmahr beat and choked the woman and told her he was going to have sex with her, he testified.

"She was afraid to resist because she was in fear for her life," he testified.

The woman told the investigator that Vonmahr bound her with duct tape, a belt and a necktie, Potter testified. When she tried to get loose, Vonmahr forced several prescription pills into her mouth, he testified.

The woman promised not to tell anyone about the incidents, and Vonmahr left the house, Potter testified. While he was gone, the woman was able to get free and was leaving the house when the trooper drove by, he testified.

On cross-examination, defense attorney Andrea Chee-a-tow asked Potter whether the beating occurred at the same time as the alleged sexual assault, and whether the woman was bound during sex.

"She said she consented out of fear," Potter testified.

Deputy State's Attorney Joseph Michael argued that sex, whether by force or threat of force, is rape.

A warrant was issued for Vonmahr on Dec. 1, 2000, court records said. But he left the country for Europe, and Germany had refused to extradite him, Michael said last month.

 Vonmahr was taken into custody in the Czech Republic in October 2010 when he went there to apply for a driver's license, Michael said.

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