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Sirens & Gavels

Steele’s daughter testifies in his defense

Edgar Steele's 20-year-old daughter told jurors today that she doesn't believe the recording of her father discussing a plot to kill her mother is authentic.

Kesley Steele, a student at Clackamas Community College in Oregon City, said she recognizes her father's voice on parts of the recording but not others.
 
“The main thing that I noticed throughout it is it's just not the way that he talks,” she said.
 
She said she listened to the recordings several times and knows her mother “wanted to come up with her own conclusion…same with my brother and sister and myself.”
 
Steele said she “grew up” in the barn where Steele and Larry Fairfax reportedly had the conversation on the recording and said she'd never before heard a train whistle. Prosecutors provided phone records that show a train passes within a few miles of the area once per evening.
 
Steele said she knew of her father's work on the Russian bride scam but didn't talk about the details with him.
 
“Getting into more details, it was not a huge common interest at the time,” she said. 
 
She said the work was also a joke around the house.
 
Assistant U.S. Attorney Traci Whelan asked Kelsey Steele if it was true she didn't want to believe that her father wanted her mother killed.
 
“Of cousre I don't want to, and I don't,” Steele replied.
 
 Kesley Steele sent her father books in jail, at first using her money or her mother's but soon using “donations from people who believed in my dad, Steele said under cross examination.
 
Whelan said Kelsey sometimes sent books and magazines to her father that he didn't want, and he was sure to let her know she'd screwed up.
 
“He would let me know if I messed up,” Kelsey Steele said.
 
Also testifying today was a Sandpoint man who arrived at Edgar Steele's home for a trip to Spokane the day of Steele's arrest. Allen Banks told jurors he was familiar with the defendant's research into the Russian mail order bride scandal.
 
Banks said he was visiting the Steele home once when “Ed called me over to the computer to see his Russian girlfriends.”
 
Banks said Cyndi Steele was present, and they looked at photos of about five or six Ukrainian women “who had been contacted as part of a legal case.”
 
The three laughed together as they discussed the case, Banks said.
Banks said Steele was weak and disoriented after medical treatment for an aneurysm. He saw Steele led out of his Talache Road home in handcuffs June 11.
 
“He was handcuffed with his hands behind his back, and his face looked puffy,” Banks said.
 
He said he was surprised by the arrest
 
“Definitely, because it's completely out of character,” Banks said.
 
But prosecutors pointed out that Banks said Steele's health had improved by the day of his arrest. They also noted that Steele called Banks to set up the appointment June 9, which matches what he told Fairfax about setting up an alibi.
 
Also testifying for the defense today was Sandpoint veterinarian Robert Stoll, who said the allegations against Steele are “completely out of character.”
 
“Edgar is a sweet, kind man,” Stoll said. He has known the Steeles for years and testified briefly about the couple's peaceful relationship. 
 
Cyndi Steele's best friend, Billie Elizabeth Cochran, also told jurors that she never witnessed or heard of spousal abuse in the 10 years she's known the couple. Cyndi Steele stayed at her home after her husband's arrest because she was afraid to stay at their home.

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