Horrifying testimony heard at burn trial

Friday, July 20, 2012

By Karen Hall

Staff Writer

A domestic violence victim testified for four hours Wednesday during the trial of the man accused of trying to kill her 15 months ago when she'd been sleeping in bed.

Ryan R. Haase, 34, of Lewisburg is charged with attempted first-degree murder because he allegedly flung the contents of a pot of hot cooking oil over Lindsay Arp, 23, of David Avenue, in the early morning hours of April 11, 2011.

The jury had an unobstructed view of Arp's disfigured face as she told her story of fear, abuse and of love turned into obsession.

A cell phone picture of Arp, taken just 12 hours before the assault that changed her life forever was admitted into evidence, and the jury saw a beautiful, healthy young woman.

"That's what you looked like?" Assistant District Attorney Eddie Barnard asked.

"Yes," Arp answered softly.

She identified photographs taken of her in the hospital by Lewisburg Detective Scott Braden, and testified she cried hysterically a few days before the trial when she saw them for the first time.

It was six months and six days before Arp could bear to have mirrors uncovered and look at her face, she told the jury in response to Barnard's questions.

Arp stayed in Vanderbilt Hospital and Skyline Medical Center from April to September 2011, and had 13 surgeries and five other medical procedures.

She has lost her right eye and right ear, and much of the mobility in her right arm, and many more surgeries and procedures are planned to make the best of what's left of her face and body. From a healthy young woman, Arp was transformed into an invalid. She suffers pain every day. Her skin itches intolerably and oozes blood.

In response to Barnard's questioning, Arp described how she worked two jobs to support herself, Haase, and three children. She said in April 2011 the couple had been together four and a half years and had two daughters together. Arp also had a son from an earlier relationship.

"Were you afraid of Mr. Haase?" Barnard asked.

"Yes, I was," Arp replied, going on to say, "I didn't want to be with him. After my daughter was born, I wanted to leave him."

Haase put a stop to that with threats.

"If I ever left him, he would find me and he would kill me," Arp testified of his threats. "He said there was no where to hide."

When Barnard asked why she hadn't called police on any of the many occasions Haase allegedly abused her physically and verbally, Arp replied, "I was scared. He told me it would be 10 times worse if I called the cops."

Finally, on March 19, 2011, Arp said Haase hit her again, leaving a handprint on her face, and she got the courage to tell him the relationship had to end and he had to move out.

Haase begged to stay, Arp said, but he also threatened her.

"If I can't have you, nobody can have you," he allegedly said. "I have a one-way ticket to jail. I have nothing to lose," she testified, quoting Haase.

"He has a very short fuse," Arp alleged. "Anything will set him off."

On the night of April 10, Arp arrived home from her weekend job at 7 p.m., and described a relatively normal evening, playing with the children and putting them to bed, and talking with Haase. She went to bed about 10 p.m. and said she was awakened once by Haase throwing her cell phone at her. Then about 2 a.m. she heard the door open again and immediately Haase flung the pot full of hot oil on her.

Arp testified the pain was immediate and excruciating.

"No person should have to go through that much pain," she said. "It was awful."

She testified how she frantically tried and failed to call 911 from her cell phone, and how she couldn't find the landline phone, so she ran to the neighbors and banged on the door until they woke up and called 911.

The first day of the trial ended with the conclusion of Arp's testimony.

Thursday morning the first policeman on the scene, Lewisburg Officer Clyde Ragsdale, told what he saw when he arrived on the scene, no more than five minutes after the 911 call.

"The skin was melting off her," Ragsdale said. "The whole front side of her body had some kind of burn. The skin was hanging off her arms and the top of her right thigh was bleeding."

"Have you ever observed anything like that before?" asked Barnard.

"No," Ragsdale answered.

Testimony was expected to continue today. If convicted, Haase could be sentenced this summer.