Rubashkin State Trial Day 11: Leah Rubashkin Testifies, Defense Rests its Case


rubashkinSholom Mordechai Rubashkin’s wife took the stand as the defense’s last witness today before it rested its case in the former Agriprocessors Inc executive’s child labor trial. The jury has been sent home for the day and will return tomorrow for closing arguments. The judge is anticipating a full day of closing arguments because of the sheer volume of evidence. Both sides said they plant to split the closing arguments among several attorneys.

“We will take breaks. I don’t want the jury falling asleep,” Black Hawk County District Associate Judge Nathan Callahan said.

The defense renewed its motion to dismiss the case for a lack of evidence.

Callahan said he will dismiss charges attached to five alleged minors listed in the complaint who who did not testify. He said he will issue a ruling on the rest of the counts after the jury reaches a verdict.

Leah Rubashkin peppered her testimony with jokes and smiles as she told the jury about their religious beliefs, large family, long marriage and Sholom’s dedication to their 16-year-old autistic son.

She spoke of his frequent business trips in the two years leading up to a May 2008 immigration raid. The couple traveled to Israel and Ukraine in 2007, in which they reassessed their life paths and service to their God.

“We wouldn’t let him just leave for business,” she said with a grin.

Sholom Mordechai leaned back in his chair and stared at the table, and sometimes smiled at what his wife said.

At one point, Heshy Rubashkin, Sholom Mordechai’s brother, walked into the courtroom and faced the judge. Leah noted the family resemblance and said people confused the brothers frequently.

The Rubashkins have been married for 28 years. They have 10 children, ranging in ages from 6 to 28, including their 16-year-old autistic son, Moshe.

For about two years prior the immigration raid, he came home from work early to assist in Moshe’s development, Leah Rubashkin said.

“We have 10 universes, actually. But he’s a pretty big one in the orbit,” she said. “After the raid, everything was shattered.”

Two earlier witnesses who now work with Agriprocessors Inc’s successor, Agristar, said they never saw minors working at the kosher slaughterhouse in Postville.

Wayne Hecker, a former Agriprocessors manager, said sometime in 2007 he escorted the child of another plant employee after the human resources manager discovered the person was a minor.

Other than that incident, he said he never saw any minors at the plant. Hecker said his workers always wore required safety equipment.

William Heston, an industrial refrigeration contractor who has worked with Agriprocessors for 16 years.

He said the workers he saw always wore the required safety equipment. The plant itself was comparable to other meat plants he has visited in its workforce – largely short Latinos – and in its equipment, he said.

In the last five years he worked at Agriprocessors, he said it became more difficult to talk with Sholom Mordechai because he was so busy in his office.

“Sometimes I had to wait an hour or two to talk to him,” he said.

He said the anhydrous ammonia used as a coolant in his refrigeration systems never leaked around workers. Some small leaks on the roof occasionally happened, he said.

{Des Moines Register/Noam Newscenter}


  1. Question: In a photo taken on this last day of defense testimony I saw a picture clearly showing that SMR is wearing a kittel under his surduk (surtout or whatever the correct spelling is). Why the kittel?

  2. I hope that the momentum isn’t slowing down in Klall Yisroel. Keep davening, and daven more. Yeshuas Hashem Keheref Ayin.

  3. Simply because when one is being judged down here he is also being judged in shomayim so for R’ Sholom it is like Yom hadin hence the reason why he is wearing a kittel.