LE MARS, Iowa -- In the last days of Timothy Boss' life, the young boy was beaten several times and left strapped to a chair for hours at a time, at least once overnight, his brother testified Tuesday.
Claxton Boss, 15, said their father, Donald Boss, took those measures to punish Timothy, then 10 years old, for punching holes in the Sheetrock walls of their basement bedroom.
"(Mom and Dad) would hit him with a wooden paddle. Dad got sick and tired of him punching holes in the wall so he tied him to a chair," said Claxton, who said he preferred to be called by his middle name, Will.
Donald Boss, 38, is charged with first-degree murder in the Feb. 23, 2000, death of Timothy, who was adopted while the Bosses lived in Michigan. The boy's body was found buried under the basement floor of the family's home in Remsen, where the family moved in 1999.
Timothy, Will and Rudy, or Roman, Boss, who was 9 at the time, used the holes to escape their room, which locked from the outside, Will said. They were not allowed to leave the room at night to use the bathroom and had to wear diapers because they urinated on the floor, said Will who, along with Rudy and a younger brother, was also adopted in Michigan.
Will told Donald Boss' attorney, public defender Mike Williams, that the boys also escaped through the holes to avoid an alarm their father had installed on the door. Will, who is in foster care in the Cherokee Mental Health Institute in Cherokee, Iowa, admitted that the boys used to leave the house and commit thefts.
Dressed in blue jeans and a baggy, long-sleeved blue denim shirt, Will testified during the trial's second day in Plymouth County District Court that on the last night he saw Timothy, his brother was bound to the metal chair by his hands and legs. The boy's neck also was tied to a shelf behind him with clear plastic zip ties like the ones used by electricians to tie wires together.
Will said the ties were not long enough to bind Timothy, so he demonstrated for the jury how Donald Boss would connect two or three of them to fit around his brother's neck.
Donald Boss was hitting Timothy with a wooden paddle about 16-18 inches long and Lisa, his mother, was hitting him with a wooden stick, Will said. At one point, Donald hit the boy on the left side of the head with the paddle, forcing Timothy's head back, Will said.
Will was watching through one of the holes Timothy had punched in the wall, but said he left because he didn't want to get in trouble for watching. He left to buy groceries -- one of his household chores. Donald and Lisa stopped beating Timothy when he returned from the store, Will said.
Will said he went downstairs to wait for his supper and saw Rudy, who also was present during the beating, poking an unresponsive Timothy and giggling, Will said.
When Donald Boss brought the boys their supper, he cut Timothy loose, but the boy slumped over in the chair and did not move, Will said. About 10 minutes later, Lisa Boss came to collect the dirty dishes and noticed Timothy had not eaten. She left, then checked in a short time later before calling for her husband, Will testified.
Will said he helped Donald Boss perform CPR on Timothy before being told to fill an upstairs bathtub with cold water. He and Donald Boss then carried Timothy upstairs and put him in the tub. Nobody called 911, Will said.
Lisa Boss later said Timothy was OK, Will said.
"Did you ever see Timothy again?" Plymouth County Attorney Darin Raymond asked.
"No," Will answered in the same calm voice he spoke in throughout his two hours of testimony.
The boy said he heard shoveling in the basement a few days later.
Public defender Mike Williams questioned Will's credibility, contrasting his testimony with answers he had given during police interviews and a court deposition.
Williams repeatedly questioned Will about a time he helped free Timothy from a hole in the wall his brother was trying to crawl through. He also asked about the punishment Timothy received for calling Lisa Boss a "sexy baby."
Several times, Williams asked whether Timothy was tied to the chair as punishment for that incident. Will threw up his hands and said, "You're confusing me. What day are we even talking about?"
Will was otherwise composed on the witness stand. During a court recess, he smiled and waved at Donald Boss and took an interest in how a video projector and the microphone before him operated.
Will said he had always told the truth during the several times he was questioned about Timothy's death. Williams referred to a transcript of an interview with Plymouth County Chief Deputy Sheriff Craig Bartolozzi.
In that interview, conducted in Montana, where Lisa Boss fled with the children on Jan. 2, the day Donald Boss was arrested, Bartolozzi asked Will about the wooden paddle found in the basement of the Boss house.
"What wooden paddle," Will answered in the transcript read by Williams. After further questions about it, Will told Bartolozzi, "You're confusing me. I don't know no wooden paddle."
Williams asked Will if he was telling the truth in that interview.
"Maybe I did lie, so what?" Will said.
Will later testified that he did not tell the whole truth to Bartolozzi because "I was told not to (by Mom)."
Lisa Boss, 34, has not been charged in the case, but is being held under house arrest as a material witness.
The state on Tuesday submitted 30 exhibits, including 23 photos of the excavation of Timothy's remains, into evidence.
The trial will resume at 9 a.m. today. Raymond said the state's case would last at least through Thursday and that Rudy, now 12 and living with relatives in Michigan, likely would be called as a witness.