August 28, 2012

Saginaw woman testifies about stalker's 'terrifying' campaign

Former DPS trooper is accused of stalking his ex-wife by spray painting her house and creating a fake profile of her on an adult dating website that brought men seeking sex to her house.

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FORT WORTH -- The racy profile on the adult dating website didn't mince words.

"I just want to get laid," the profile began, flashing a picture of a smiling dark-haired woman.

And the men responded in droves -- calling her workplace, even showing up at her house expecting the sex they believed had been promised by the woman on the website.

Some had been told to just walk in the door.

"It was terrifying," medical secretary Lawana Siney of Saginaw testified Tuesday about the phony profile created with her name and photo.

Siney's ex-husband, former state trooper Kevin Safford, 41, of Fort Worth, is on trial in state District Judge Sharen Wilson's court, accused of creating the Web profile and making threats as part of a stalking campaign launched in 2009 after the two divorced.

Prosecutors Steven Gebhardt and Andrea Townsend presented evidence Tuesday that Safford threatened Siney's life and family, spray-painted slut and other insults on her house and car, and inundated her and her family with texts and phone calls. At one point, the word slut was burned into her lawn with gasoline, according to testimony.

"This is like a puzzle," Townsend told jurors in her opening statement in Safford's trial on stalking and online-impersonation charges. "All the pieces fit together and point to this man."

Safford has maintained his innocence, and his attorneys, Harold Johnson and Liz Cortright, suggested through questioning that a former boyfriend or acquaintance of Siney's might be the culprit.

They say Safford was also targeted by graffiti, with stalker spray-painted on his truck. Saginaw police testified that they suspect that Safford set fire to his own vehicle.

If convicted, Safford faces up to 10 years in prison on each count.

Siney told jurors Tuesday, sometimes tearfully, that the incidents began in May 2009 with graffiti and other damage to her home. Her vehicles were repeatedly defaced with spray paint, and in some cases the words were scratched into the paint.

The bricks on her home were spray-painted and her garage doors were defaced, she said.

She received hundreds of text messages -- including repeated notes detailing what she was wearing to work each day -- and her aunt and mother received phone calls threatening to harm her, according to testimony.

Her mother and aunt told jurors that the voice on the phone was Safford's. Some calls were recorded and were played for jurors Tuesday.

"Your daughter is a prostitute," a caller said.

"Kevin's got a gun. He's going to hurt her," a caller told Siney's mother.

Under questioning from Johnson, however, Siney said she initially suspected a man she dated after she and Safford divorced. But she became convinced that Safford was behind the threats, she said.

Records show that Safford was a Department of Public Safety trooper for four years before surrendering his peace officer's license in December 2000 for undisclosed reasons. Testimony resumes this morning in Criminal District Court No. 1.

Dianna Hunt, 817-390-7084

Twitter: @DiannaHunt

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