Doctor counters nude photo claims in Winfield trial
ALPENA — A 17-year-old identified a picture of a woman’s nude torso as a selfie supplied by his former teacher, but a doctor disagreed during Friday’s testimony in the trial of former Alpena Public Schools teacher Heather Winfield.
Three family members also testified on Friday in Alpena’s 26th Circuit Court as Winfield fights charges that she sexually assaulted a boy when he was between 11 and 13 years old.
The News does not identify alleged survivors of sexual assault.
The alleged victim told police Winfield sent him the photo and numerous others between the summers of 2016 and 2018, when the two engaged in an ongoing sexual relationship, according to the accuser.
The photo was the only such image found on the alleged victim’s numerous electronic devices, police testified in the trial that started with jury selection on Sept. 7.
Dr. Jessica Bruning told the jury a surgery scar on Winfield’s side did not appear in the photo, and other physical characteristics of the defendant and the photo did not match, including differing belly button shapes.
Medical records show Winfield underwent sterilization surgery before 2016, the doctor testified. The alleged victim testified that Winfield twice told him she was pregnant during the time they were allegedly having sex.
Text messages given to defense attorneys by Winfield’s mother — who on Thursday admitted she may have obtained them illegally — could be shown to jurors, Judge Roy Hayes decided after requiring further proof of the messages’ authenticity.
The texts imply a previous witness lied when he said he saw Winfield and the alleged victim having sex.
Winfield’s daughter testified Winfield and the boy had a normal teacher-student relationship during the months when he regularly stayed at their house and accompanied the family on vacations, while the boy was a student in Winfield’s class and after he moved on to another classroom at Thunder Bay Junior High School.
The daughter described a 2017 incident in which the alleged victim, angered when Winfield disciplined him, smashed game controllers, pushed the daughter across the room, and hit her brother.
The incident occurred about a year after suspicious texts between Winfield and the boy led to a police investigation that closed without police filing charges. At the time, the boy, then 12, denied Winfield had assaulted him.
According to the daughter, the alleged victim told Winfield he would change his story if she didn’t do what he said. Police would believe him because he was just a kid, he allegedly told the daughter.
The boy once pointed a rifle at her and her mother, the daughter said.
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Refusing to answer questions from Alpena County Prosecutor Cynthia Muszynski because she was “not asking the right thing,” Winfield’s husband, Greg Winfield, admitted he told police in 2018 that he didn’t know about numerous hotel stays billed to his credit card in 2017.
The alleged victim told police he and Heather Winfield had sex in the Alpena hotels.
Had his wife and the alleged victim had sex in his presence, as the accuser claimed, he would have seen it, Greg Winfield said, saying he has “been training my whole life to notice.”
Greg Winfield described a gun and other expensive gifts his wife bought for the alleged victim. The gifts signified little, as the couple gave their own children gifts of equal or greater value, he testified.
A police officer earlier in the trial testified that when police searched Winfield’s house, they did not find evidence of expensive items purchased for Winfield’s children.
Greg Winfield admitted on the stand that, in 2020, Alpena Walmart security employees caught him shoplifting groceries.
He told the jury he took full responsibility for the act, which he called “a momentary lapse in judgement” brought on by the family’s financial hardship because of the investigation of his wife.
According to police reports obtained by The News via a Freedom of Information Act request, Walmart security cameras captured Greg Winfield stealing more than 50 items, valued at about $300, on 11 separate occasions in March and April 2020.
Stolen items included Easter candy, ribeye steak, dog treats, an 82-cent box of pasta, and a watermelon.
Jurors — who have remained attentive, taken copious notes, and provided questions for the witnesses throughout eight days of testimony — handed in multiple questions they wanted asked of Greg Winfield.
One juror wondered why Greg Winfield allowed the alleged victim back into his house after the initial investigation.
Another asked why the witness agreed to buy a gun for a boy with a history of violence and family trauma.
Originally scheduled to end Friday, the trial will resume Monday with additional witnesses for the defense. Another trial is scheduled to begin Wednesday in the courtroom. Attorneys will do their best to make that possible, the judge told jurors before sending them home for the weekend.
Julie Riddle can be reached at 989-358-5693, email@example.com or on Twitter @jriddleX.