Bellrichard testifies in first of three trials
Published 10:17 am Wednesday, January 29, 2014
UPDATE: Loren Bellrichard was found guilty on three counts of felony stalking and a felony charge for violating a restraining order on Wednesday. Click here to read the story.
Loren Bellrichard willingly took the witness stand Tuesday in the first of three jury trials against him in Mower County Court, but he may have said too much.
Bellrichard, 67, of Austin, faces four felony counts of stalking a person younger than 18 and one felony count of violating a restraining order. The jury was deliberating as this issue went to press.
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Bellrichard was charged in late September 2013 after he gave the victim a bicycle, softball bat, glove and softballs as gifts. He had previously sent the 16-year-old girl several letters, too. According to the victim’s father, who testified, the letters became increasingly uncomfortable, with references of love, sex and marriage.
“I had very severe concerns,” he said.
The victim also testified and said she would run from her car to her front door at home because she began to grow weary of Bellrichard.
Though a defendant doesn’t have to testify in his or her own criminal trial, Bellrichard wanted to tell his side of the story. Bellrichard admitted to sending the letters and leaving gifts, but said he only wanted to encourage the victim to play softball, as he thought she would be good. He admitted he spoke to an Austin police officer about the letters on two occasions. However, Bellrichard and his attorney, Dan Donnelly, indicated no law had been broken at that point. Furthermore, they pointed out that the family and victim had never confronted Bellrichard about the letters or told him to stop.
However, Donnelly objected and tried to stop his own client’s testimony on Tuesday while assistant Mower County attorney Christa Daily cross-examined. District Court Judge Donald Rysavy looked at them perplexed, and indicated the irony of the situation.
Bellrichard was going into detail about the second time the officer met with him regarding the letters before Donnelly objected. Daily then became quite blunt with her questioning, and asked if Bellrichard is in love with the victim.
“I think she’s a fine person,” Bellrichard said. “I don’t know if I’m in love with anybody.”
Earlier on Tuesday, the victim’s father had read parts of the letters in his testimony. Letters included references of running away together, and getting married when the victim turned 18. Daily later asked Bellrichard if he wanted to marry the victim.
Bellrichard admitted he would, if the victim was of legal age.
“I would marry her, if she wanted to marry me,” he said.
Daily then asked if Bellrichard violated a restraining order by sending one more letter in November. He said he never contacted the victim after the restraining order, but then admitted he only sent one more letter because he hadn’t finished what he was trying to say in his previously letter.
Bellrichard’s two other cases in Mower County Court stem from a furlough he received in November to attend his mother’s funeral. According to the court complaints, Bellrichard did not return to jail and was arrested past his furlough deadline, and he allegedly sent a letter to Mower County attorneys and a police officer, in which he threatened to burn their houses down.