A Sedgwick County jury began hearing evidence Wednesday in the trial of a Wichita man who is charged with using a 2-by-4 to beat a woman prosecutors say was one of his prostitutes. He also is charged with using a knife to rob a prostitute’s customer.
Because prosecutors were unable during the first two days of the trial to find the woman who was beaten, they were granted permission to read her testimony from the preliminary hearing into the record.
Jesse Dunerway Jr., 50, is charged in the case with two counts of aggravated battery and one count each of aggravated robbery, aggravated burglary and making a criminal threat.
Wichita police said the charges stem from a March 26 incident that saw Dunerway enter an apartment building at 520 E. Central and kick down the doors of several apartments looking for Patricia Carrion. After finding her and beating her with the 2-by-4, police said, he forced her to walk toward the 600 block of North Topeka. As they were walking, police said, she ran to a police car that was responding to a break-in call on East Central, and Dunerway ran from the scene.
Four days later, police said, Dunerway and a prostitute robbed a man at knifepoint after the man paid her $100 for sex.
Before lawyers were asked to give their opening statements Wednesday, prosecutor Andrea Nelson told District Judge Joseph Bribiesca that her office had been trying unsuccessfully to locate Carrion. An investigator with the district attorney’s office said Carrion was recently released from a work-release program.
Bribiesca ruled that Carrion was unavailable to testify and said her preliminary hearing testimony could be read to the jury.
The first witness at the trial was Indy Sweatman, 36, who said she worked for Dunerway for about four years. A few hours before she testified, Sweatman pleaded guilty to taking part in the March 30 robbery and agreed to testify against Dunerway. She said prosecutors were recommending that she be placed on probation.
Sweatman, who has been in custody since her arrest in March, told the jury that she worked “just about every day” as a prostitute for Dunerway and had as many as eight or nine customers a day. She said outside the presence of the jury that she made as much as $2,000 to $3,000 a week and gave him all the money.
On the night of the robbery, she testified, she agreed to have sex with a man for $100. She said they were parked in a truck near 21st and Hillside when the man began grabbing at her clothing. At that point, she said, Dunerway came out of a nearby house, pulled the man off of her and took the rest of his money.