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Friends, relatives vouch for Makris' character, relationship with alleged victim

 


In day four of Nebraska vs. George Makris, the defense attempted to persuade the jury that no one ever observed any inappropriate behavior or fear between the alleged victim and Makris.

The state maintained that witnesses for the defense, mostly Makris’ friends and family, were not around the alleged victim often enough and were not qualified to make judgments on her behavior.

Makris, a California man, was charged last summer with first degree sexual assault of a child and third degree sexual assault of a child, both felonies. The defendant is accused of touching his female minor relative in inappropriate ways over the course of multiple years. Makris’ mother is a Sidney resident, where some of the alleged encounters took place.

Ron Duncan testified that he had known Makris since 1975 and that they had worked together in various manners for 40 years. Duncan said he did have occasion to be around the alleged victim and her brother when they were visiting Makris in California. Duncan claimed he did not witness any inappropriate behavior between Makris and the kids.

“I’ve never seen anything but an affectionate thing,” Duncan said.

He confirmed that the alleged victim never seemed fearful or scared of Makris.

Chris Bracey, another long time friend of Makris’ testified that she met Makris on the drag racing circuit more than 25 years ago. She interacted with the alleged victim at a race the girl attended with Makris. Bracey did not observe any unusual behavior.

“It was just nice and light and easy,” Bracey said.

Bracey’s own children spent quite a bit of time with Makris when they were young and she never observed Makris behaving in an overly affectionate manner toward them, she said.

A majority of the witnesses who appeared for the defense on Thursday testified that the alleged victim showed no fear of Makris, while also admitting that they had no training in how to identify victims of child sexual abuse and would not know how those children would act toward their abusers.

Bracey did claim that she would know if something was going on. Bracey said that because she’s a mother, she has a special sensitivity to problems with children or inappropriate relationships.

“Mom radar kind of comes from you gut,” Bracey said.

The next witness was Bradley Courtwright, who has been drag racing with the defendant for 38 years. He engaged with the alleged victim when she was visiting California twice and testified to the positive relationship between she and the defendant.

“It was pretty much just playing as a parent would with their own child,” Courtwright said.

His own children also played and roughhoused with Makris growing up.

Janice Makris, the defendant’s sister-in-law testified that the shower in George Makris’ home in California, wherein the alleged victim said some inappropriate conduct occurred during a barbeque in 2006, had a different sort of door and lining than the victim claimed.

Jeffrey Makris of Sidney was around when George Makris would visit his mother’s for holidays, when the alleged victim was also present. Jeffrey Makris said the kids normally slept in the guest bedrooms upstairs or downstairs.

He testified to one instance in which he knew that George Makris and the alleged victim slept on the downstairs futon in his mother’s house. Jeffrey Makris and George Makris had gone out to play pool and came home late. Jeffrey Makris later found that the girl had asked to sleep on the futon and that she and George had ended up sleeping on it together.

“I indicated that that’s probably not the best thing to have happen,” he said.

Jeffrey Makris did not ask the minor female about it.

“Innocent or not, the appearance is enough to cause problems,” he said.

The alleged victim’s behavior toward George Makris was nothing but positive, Jeffrey Makris added.

“She was an open and loving child and wanted him to be around, wanted to do things with him,” Jeffrey Makris said. George Makris would wrestle with and tickle the kids and Jeffrey Makris did not find any issue with this.

“It was the same interaction that he’d had with my kids,” Jeffrey Makris said.

The alleged victim’s fourth grade teacher, a character witness for the prosecution, was recalled to the stand. This time the court heard that he has had students in the past with character changes he reported to the principal, but the alleged victim was not one of those students. The girl took part in after school journaling during her time in his class. In the past the teacher had read some journals by other students that indicated some sort of abuse, but the alleged victim’s journal did not.

Lieutenant Keith Andrew of the Sidney Police Department was also recalled to the stand. Defense attorney Don Miller questioned him about why he didn’t obtain Makris’ employment records or pay stubs during the course of the investigation. Andrew answered that it didn’t seem relevant to the case because there wasn’t one definite isolated incident, but a span of years over which the allegations took place.

“I tried to do everything that was reasonable and necessary to keep the case on focus,” Andrew said.

Also recalled to testify, Makris’ mother detailed a visit to Makris’s home at the time in California, in which the alleged victim claimed something inappropriate had happened between she and the defendant in the shower. Makris’ mother remembered that no such incident occurred and that she had sent the children to take their showers that day in 2006.

She was responsible for the children on trips to California and said they were rarely out of her sight.

“If they went some place, I went,” she said.

She said Makris and the alleged victim had a good relationship.

“If we were walking someplace she would want to take hold of Jay’s (George Makris’s) hand,” she said.

She then listed the exact dates in which Makris and the alleged victim were both staying at her home during the time frame when the alleged abuse took place. She detailed at least three separate visits in which Makris and the alleged victim both spent the night at her home for at least one night.

They were both staying at her home when the last alleged abuse occurred around Thanksgiving of 2010. Makris’ mother confirmed that this was the occasion when the defendant and the alleged victim slept on the futon in her basement together. Makris was sleeping on the futon and the girl wanted to watch TV and ended up falling asleep next to him.

“I told Jay (George Makris), ‘Carry her upstairs or just push her over’ and I went upstairs,” she said.

She was adamant that the girl was in no danger at that time.

“She was as safe there with him as she would have been if I held her in my arms all night long,” she said.

The next morning the alleged victim came upstairs and acted the same as she always did. She asked frequently to sleep on the futon with Makris, according to the witness. But the witness made her sleep in her own bed, and tucked her into it, she said.

She added that she never told the alleged victim that she could go downstairs and sleep with the defendant.

Patricia Makris, the defendant’s ex wife, did not recall any opportunity for any shower incident at the barbeque in 2006 at George Makris’s home. She said the alleged victim was typically happy.

“She always had a smile on her face,” Patricia Makris said.

She did not see anything wrong with the relationship between George Makris and the girl.

“Everything seemed fine and normal,” Patricia Makris said. “I didn’t see anything out of the ordinary.”

Karen Funk, of California, took the stand and explained that Makris’ mother used to baby sit her children and she said they became like family. She testified to the impact the death of the alleged victim’s mother had on Makris. The alleged victim’s mother, a relative of Makris, died in a car crash when the girl was very young. Makris kept in touch with his relative’s children after her death and often saw them at family gatherings.

The prosecutor, Cheyenne County Attorney Paul Schaub, asked her about her knowledge of the behavior of sexual abuse victims.

“I would have no idea of the normal behavior of that,” she replied.

Many of the witnesses on Thursday testified that Makris wears a different type of underwear than what the alleged victim reported. Those of the witnesses that had been to Makris’ house in California also testified that the shower was much different than the one the alleged victim described inappropriate behavior occurred in.

After the jury recessed for the day, Clint Elwood of the Nebraska State Patrol testified about a polygraph given to Makris about the alleged instances of abuse. When the defendant denied that there were any sexual activities going on between he and the alleged victim during his visit to Sidney around Thanksgiving 2010, the polygraph found that he was truthful on that particular answer, Elwood said.

Judge Derek Weimer explained that he would not allow this into evidence.

“Nebraska case law does not permit the results of a polygraph test to be submitted to a jury,” Weimer said.

 

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