RANDY PENCH / rpench@sacbee.com

Duewa Lee, seen at an Oct. 7 court hearing, is accused of torturing a 12-year-old girl.

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Girl tells jury she was tortured by her father's fiancée while he was in prison

Published: Wednesday, Jun. 19, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1B
Last Modified: Friday, Jul. 19, 2013 - 3:23 pm

The torture happened upstairs, downstairs, on the stairs themselves, all over the house, the girl said. Hot spatulas slapped on the palms of her hands, a hot iron pierced into her back.

She was kicked in the abdomen and head, had her ear pierced with a stapler, was smashed across the back with a frying pan and thrown down the stairs, she testified.

But the girl returned time and again in her testimony Tuesday in Sacramento Superior Court to the stress position she said she was forced to endure regularly over 2 1/2 months in the torture chamber she said was the bedroom of her father's fiancée.

"I had to stand in the corner, and I had to hold both of my hands up in the air, and I had to hold one of my legs up," the girl, now 14, told a jury hearing the case against the alleged torturer, Duewa Abeana Lee, 37. Lee is on trial charged with torture and 11 other felony counts related to the alleged abuse of the girl, whose name is being withheld because she is an alleged victim of domestic violence.

"If I had one leg up and I let it down, she would hit me over the head with a spatula," the girl said. It went on every day, she testified, for hours on end, late into the night, while Lee reclined on her bed, watching television.

Deputy District Attorney Nancy Cochrane said in her opening statement that the abuse began when the girl's father, Wade Curtis Carter, who is now 40, was arrested on a robbery charge in the summer of 2011 and later convicted and imprisoned.

The prosecutor said Lee had six other children of her own and was pregnant with a seventh by Carter. When the law took him out of the house, it left his 12-year-old daughter in it, Cochrane said, which created a foul degree of anger in Lee that worked its way into the infliction of great bodily injury on the girl.

According to Cochrane, Lee once told the girl that her father was gone, "I don't like you. I don't like it that you're around. I don't like it that (Carter) is not here, and if you tell anyone about this, your dad" – who had a previous burglary conviction as well as the robbery – "is a three-striker and I'll blame it on him."

While the jury will decide if Lee made the threat in yet another form of torture on the girl to make her think her father would be imprisoned for life, Lee sure enough has blamed the girl's multitude of injuries – documented in hospital examinations – on Wade Curtis Carter.

"Duewa Lee did not cause the injuries to (the girl)," Assistant Public Defender Mike Nelson said in his opening statement. "The father did."

Nelson said that once the injuries were discovered, the girl sought to protect her father, "the person she is closest to in the world," by accusing Lee.

Nelson said Lee made a convenient target for blame because the defendant wanted to take Carter's daughter out of her junior high school and home-school her.

The case broke, Cochrane said, when Lee took the girl and a few of her other kids to a local DMV office.

Left alone for a short spell, the girl told a stranger in the office, "Please, please help me," Cochrane said.

The stranger passed the request along to a DMV clerk, who called a supervisor, who called the CHP, which dispatched an officer to the waiting area to arrest Lee.

In interviews with investigators, the girl then laid out her story of abuse that she related Tuesday in Judge Cheryl Chun Meegan's courtroom.

She testified without emotion, her voice flat and soft. When asked if she could recognize in the courtroom the person who abused and tortured her, the girl pointed straight at Lee and identified her.

Everything was generally OK in the home, the girl testified, until her father's arrest. Then, she said, Lee loaded her down with most of the housework and yelled at her about the performance of the chores. Her relationship with Lee deteriorated.

She told about the spatula to the head and hands and how Lee once "put a pan on the stove and she let it heat up and she hit me on the butt with it." She told about Lee pushing her down the stairs with such force that her head dented the wall.

"She would say, 'This is what you get' for whatever I did," the girl told the jury.

She told of Lee smashing her head into a window and breaking it. She described how Lee "didn't let me eat. It would depend on what mood she was in."

She told how she was standing in Lee's bedroom corner one night and "she turned her iron on, and she thought I was lying about something, and she burned me with the iron. … She was yelling in my face, and she burned me. … She said something about her being pregnant and me trying to make her feel bad."

On cross-examination, Nelson elicited testimony from the girl that she got in trouble with her dad on occasion for lying to him and that he would punish her by making her stand in a corner, although she said he never made her raise her hands in the air and lift one of her feet off the floor.

She said she knew about her dad's "three-strike" status, that "he had mentioned it before he went to jail," and she agreed with Nelson that she wanted to protect him.

Call The Bee's Andy Furillo, (916) 321-1141. Follow him on Twitter @andyfurillo.

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