Jurors in Anoka County on Friday heard an age-old story of jealous obsession. But this one had a 21st-century twist.
A prosecutor presented a video showing defendant Benjamin Paul Adams choking, punching and kicking a woman with whom he had a five-year relationship — all caught on a surveillance system that Adams set up in his own bedroom.
A nearly two-hour expletive-laced verbal assault, in which the 40-year-old Adams allegedly threatened to stab the woman, was heard by jurors who likely will decide next week whether Adams is guilty of attempted murder. In addition to two counts of first-degree attempted murder, he is charged with kidnapping, assault and making terroristic threats in the incident last fall at his Spring Lake Park apartment.
“I knew I was going to die,” the woman, 25, testified when prosecutor Brenda Sund paused a video in which Adams is seen slamming her head into the floor several times.
“He’s telling me that we have a couple hours before the sun rises and he had to have answers or we’re both dying,” the woman said of the October incident.
Adams, whose apartment was connected to his custom-car repair business, had equipped his shop and living quarters with multiple surveillance cameras. She testified that he also followed her using a GPS system.
Attorney: Ugly, but only assault
“The camera doesn’t lie,” defense attorney Brad Zunker told the jury in his opening statement. “It sees what it sees. It records what it sees — the truth.
“Believe what you see, absolutely.”
And before the jury saw any video, Zunker gave them a preview.
“It’s disgusting,” Zunker said. “It’s rotten. And it’s criminal. Absolutely.
“Mr. Adams is guilty of assault. You betcha. And he’s guilty of terroristic threats. You betcha. Nothing more.”
The victim, a mother of two young children, testified that she had been in a tumultuous on-again, off-again relationship with Adams for five years. A “roller coaster,” she called it, with fighting, arguing and abuse — verbal and physical. He’d often choke her, pull her hair or throw things at her, she testified.
But Adams could also charm her with roses, poetry and song lyrics, she said.
She testified that she moved to St. Joseph, Minn., her cellphone sporting a spyware app, courtesy of Adams. If she wanted to remain with him, she had to agree to the spyware, she said.
One day Adams showed up in St. Joseph, told her to pack her things and accompany him to the Twin Cities, she said. He told her that he was bothered by whispers — possibly men’s voices — he detected on her phone. There was audio of her moaning — and he did not accept her explanation that she was alone when she moaned in her sleep, she testified.
Emotions flared on Oct. 20. According to court records, Adams broke the woman’s nose that night. She said Friday that he threatened to kill her and beat her with the blunt end of a pair of chrome scissors. But Adams and the woman were out of camera range when he allegedly beat her.
Court documents say that it was Adams who cut the woman’s left wrist with a razor, but that was not seen in Friday’s video session, either. In fact, the woman testified Friday that she cut herself.
“I wasn’t going to be tortured anymore,” she told the court.
Adams had been smoking methamphetamine the night he accused the woman of having sex with other men, authorities said.
Testimony, including more surveillance, is to resume Monday. If convicted of attempted murder, Adams faces up to 20 years in prison.