UPDATE: Trial dates set in Zearing kidnapping, abuse case

Trial dates have been set for individuals accused in a family member kidnapping and abuse case in the town of Zearing.

Three of the four family members are currently scheduled to appear before a jury in June, while the fourth individual awaits a September trial, according to court documents.

The four family members who were criminally charged following the investigation are listed below:

  • 44-year-old Gary L. Graham, Jr. of Zearing (scheduled for June 18 trial)
  • 42-year-old Danielle K. Graham of Zearing (scheduled for June 18 trial)
  • 20-year-old Aaron Williams of Zearing (scheduled for September 10 trial)
  • 16-year-old Kaitlynn Williams of Zearing (scheduled for June 4 trial)

All four individuals face charges of First-Degree Kidnapping, a class “A” felony, and Willful Injury, a class “C” felony. They have all entered pleas of not guilty.

In a March press release, the Story County Sheriff’s Office announced criminal charges against the family, who is accused of “severe abuse and malnutrition of [another] family member.”

The release stated that deputies were called to a local hospital in the early morning hours of January 27 on a report of an adult male patient suffering from “severe traumatic injuries and malnutrition.”

Two individuals, identified as 42-year-old Danielle K. Graham and 20-year-old Aaron Williams, both of Zearing, reportedly brought the injured male to the emergency room. Medical staff told investigators that the male arrived at the clinic “conscious” but not alert or responsive to stimulus, per the release.

The injured male, who is also a Zearing resident, had reportedly suffered multiple severe injuries, some considered life-threatening, due to abuse. These included rib fractures, wounds in multiple stages of healing, and a brain bleed. He also is said to have weighed just 70 pounds when he arrived at the hospital, indicating severe malnourishment.

Following a criminal investigation, authorities determined that “all family members in his household” had knowledge of and participated in the abuse.

As one example of the alleged abuse, the release claimed the family “restrained the victim by handcuffing his wrists and ankles to his bed while physically abusing him.” Investigators believe the abuse escalated in early November 2023, resulting in “a grave long-term injury,” according to the release.

Per online court records, Gary Graham and Danielle Graham are currently scheduled for a trial start date of June 18 at 9:00 a.m., with both expected to first appear for separate pretrial conferences.

Court documents indicate that Aaron Williams is set to be tried before a jury on September 10 at 9:00 a.m.

Kaitlynn Williams was charged as an adult “due to the severity” of the alleged crime, according to Sheriff’s Office Captain Nicholas Lennie. Her attorney has since filed a motion to have her case moved to a juvenile court. A hearing relative to that motion is scheduled for May 20 at 9:00 a.m., according to online records. She is currently scheduled for a jury trial on June 4 at 9:00 a.m.

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