Defense attorneys for three persons accused of human trafficking in central Ohio rested their cases Thursday without calling a single witness.
The case is expected to go to the jury today.
The prosecution and the defense both rested Thursday in the trial in Delaware County Common Pleas Court, but the jury has not begun deliberations because closing arguments have not yet been completed.
Thursday was the seventh day of evidence in the trial of three Mandarin Chinese-speaking people — Qing Xu, 57, and her husband, Xiaoshaung Chao, 57, both of Columbus, and Qing’s sister, Estella Xu, 55, of Pomona, California — who are accused of human trafficking and promoting prostitution at three massage parlors they operated in central Ohio. One was in Powell.
Authorities have alleged that seven Chinese women were forced to live at the massage parlors and were not permitted to leave. Defense attorneys have said that all the women came to Ohio legally.
A Columbus vice detective was the last of the prosecution’s witnesses who testified Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning. The detective was one of the investigators in charge of the investigation after a detective from the Powell police department received an anonymous letter and began investigating a massage parlor in Powell.
After the prosecution rested its case, the defense attorneys in the case — Scott Culbert, Christopher Soon and Daniel Sabol — each filed motions, seeking to dismiss charges based on lack of evidence. Visiting Judge Joseph Timothy Campbell denied the motions for Qing Xu and Estella Xu but did dismiss three counts of practicing medicine (massages) without a license that had also being brought against Xiashaung Chao, citing a lack of evidence.
The defense then rested its case. The defense called no witnesses and the defendants did not testify in their own defense.
Closing statements were given by Assistant Delaware County Prosecutor Douglas Dumolt and Soon Thursday afternoon but because a juror had another obligation at 5 p.m. the trial was adjourned for the day.
Culbert and Sabol are expected to giving closing statements Friday morning followed by a rebuttal from visiting Franklin County prosecutor Jennifer Rausch.
The jury will then begin deliberations.
Qing Xu, Xiaoshaung Chao and Estella Xu are each charged with:
• Behaving in a pattern of corrupt activity, a first-degree felony, with a specification that the defendant knowingly committed crimes that furthered human trafficking.
• Eight counts of promoting prostitution, a fourth-degree felony, also with an added specification for human trafficking. Authorities have alleged that the women working at the massage parlors were providing sexual services for male clients.
• Three counts of money laundering, a third-degree felony.
During the trial, interpreters have been needed to translate testimony for the three defendants, who do not speak English, and for six women who worked at the massage parlors. Campbell has had to stop proceedings frequently to remind attorneys or witnesses to slow down for the interpreters.
The jury is comprised of seven women and five men.
The massage parlors were shut down by authorities during a raid in January.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.
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