Boss case: Is it a simple matter?

Tuesday, December 3, 2002
Donald Boss (left) is escorted from the Plymouth County Courthouse

It's simply this, about a simple truth, Iowa Assistant Attorney General Charles Thoman told the jurors in his opening statement during the murder trial of Donald L. Boss Jr.

But defense attorney Michael Williams countered, in his opening remarks, that things were not that simple and asked the jury to have an open mind to what they could learn from experts about Timothy Boss and his death.

This Defendant, Thoman said, referring to Donald Boss, tied his 10-year-old adopted son to a chair, this Defendant beat him and this Defendant and his wife, Lisa Boss, left the boy in the chair to die.

Thoman went on to describe the family's move from Michigan to Remsen and the decision to homeschool three of the adopted, black boys.

They "spent almost all their time at 602 Fulton," Thoman said, and were never seen by any teacher from the school. According to Thoman's remarks, on the day Timothy Boss died, Donald Boss was scheduled to work but instead called in sick.

A few days later when the school contacted the Bosses to review homeschooling for Tim, they were told he was back in Michigan.

Donald Boss Jr., center, stands after District Court Judge James D. Scott calls an adjournent (AP Photo/SIOUX CITY JOURNAL, Jerry Mennenga)

"There were no friends, there were no social workers, there were no teachers to ask where was Tim Boss. There was no one to realize, no one to care about the location of Tim Boss," said Thoman.

He described difficulties in the family that led to trips back and forth to Michigan. Around New Year's when Lisa Boss came back to Iowa, she left one of the children in the care of Donald Boss's sister and that sister brought Roman (aka Rudy) to see his adopted grandparents.

They asked the boy where Tim was, according to Thoman. "That's when Rudy, who was no longer under the influence of the Defendant said, 'Tim's dead. Mom and Dad killed him,'" Thoman related.

The prosecutor told the jurors about attempts to find Timothy Boss and lies about the boy's whereabouts told by both Donald and Lisa Boss to investigators.

Williams told jurors in his opening remarks, "If the simple truth is what we can see without having to think too much, ..., then the simple truth is the sun revolves around the earth," offered Williams, as he went to give an overview of the defense position.

Williams said the defense would explain what the injuries sustained by Timothy Boss really meant and referred to medications and posthumous tests for them which had differing results. He noted that some conversations were tape recorded while others were not and that interviews were done with an agenda rather than following protocols.

In his opening remarks, he suggested for example, that a child hitting a gypsum board wall to make a hole might hit a stud instead, which could account for a certain type of "boxer's injury." "It's little more complicated than the 'simple truth,'" said Williams.

Jurors heard from:

*Chief Deputy Craig Bartolozzi about the first calls on the Boss family, the arrest of Donald Boss, searches of the home and transport of the boy's remains.

*Jan Klein, City of Remsen secretary that utilities at the home were in both names but she did not know who made the call to hook them up;

*Criminalist Chris Schmidt about his and his partner's examination of the Boss home, particularly two basement rooms; and

*Sgt. Jeff Te Brink about first contact with the Boss family, searches of the home and transport of the boy's remains.

The prosecution introduced several photographs, Timothy Boss's birth certificate and an orange folding chair as exhibits.

Witnesses are sequestered during the trial, which means they are not allowed in the courtroom before they testify.

Among the witnesses to testify later in the case are Claxton and Roman Boss, also adopted black sons of Donald and Lisa Boss, Jr.

In his opening remarks, Thoman said the boys' testimony may not be consistent because they are human.

He said they would tell the jurors about being locked in a basement room with no light and being made to wear diapers because they were not allowed out to go to the bathroom.

Thoman said the boys will tell about punching holes in the wall to sneak out to steal food from the kitchen.

"This is what led to the death of Tim Boss," said Thoman. According to Thoman, he was trying to squeeze out of a hole, got stuck and got found by the Defendant. According to Thoman, Donald Boss called his wife. The boy was tied to an orange folding chair with zip ties, said the prosecutor, and beaten either with hands or a board until he was unconscious.

At sometime, Lisa Boss brought food to the boy and cut the zip ties. He slumped out of the chair, said Thoman and was put back. When Lisa Boss came back later, she told Claxton to go get Dad, said Thoman.

The prosecutor said they tried to revive the boy but did not call for emergency help and told the other children to go back downstairs because Tim was going to be okay.

Said Thoman, "Claxton will tell you, 'They thought I was sleeping. They thought I didn't know what happened.'"

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: