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Brother: Victim long feared accused killer

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    Robert Mathis II sits at the defense table during opening statements in Lucas County Common Pleas Court. He is on trial on charges of aggravated murder and murder in the 2011 death of his ex-girlfriend, Jennifer Molnar.

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    Judge Michael Goulding gives instructions to the jury in Robert Mathis II's trial for aggravated murder and murder in the 2011 death of his ex-girlfriend, Jennifer Molnar, in Lucas County Courthouse on August 27.

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Jeff Molnar’s lip curled as he prepared to read a letter in court Thursday written by his younger sister to the man accused of later beating her to death.

The letter, written by Jennifer Molnar, was sent to Robert Mathis II while he was incarcerated at the Corrections Center of Northwest Ohio. Mr. Molnar read the February, 2011, letter aloud to a jury during Mathis’ ongoing murder trial.

Mathis is accused of beating Ms. Molnar to death in June 2011 at an East Toledo home. He has pleaded not guilty in the case.

Ms. Molnar wrote to her former boyfriend, saying she did not deserve such treatment, referencing to times when he hit her because he didn’t believe she was telling the truth. She also wrote “I am scared of you,” her brother read. 

“I am not a rag doll and feel so belittled by you, by how physical you can be to me. The sad thing, you act as if it’s OK and it’s not,” Mr. Molnar read from his sister’s letter. 

Mr. Molnar said he is familiar with his sister’s writing; he taught her how to write and they often wrote each other notes. 

“I know her handwriting when I see her handwriting,” he said. 

After Ms. Molnar began dating Mathis, “everything rapidly went downhill,” her brother said. She lost her employment, she began abusing drugs, and she withdrew from the family — all behavior that was unlike her.

“She always seemed to have bruises and marks on her body, black eyes, bruises on her arms,” he said.

In 2009, she was in intensive care after she was severely beaten, Mr. Molnar said. Court records show Mathis was indicted for felonious assault, rape, and two counts of kidnapping, but the charges were later dropped at Ms. Molnar’s request. 

On Thursday, Mr. Molnar said his sister feared Mathis but continued the relationship because she believed there would be repercussions for her, her son, or her family if she ended it.

Two weeks prior to her death, Mr. Molnar recalled a conversation with his sister. He encouraged her to leave the relationship and stay with him or their parents.

“At the time, it seemed like she was seriously considering it, but it never happened,” he said. 

Defense attorney Drew Griffith asked if Ms. Molnar cared for Mathis. Mr. Molnar admitted he did not know the entirety of the couple’s relationship. There were times were the couple seemingly got along, he said. 

Ms. Molnar suffered from multiple instances of blunt force trauma, according to Dr. Maneesha Pandey, a deputy Lucas County coroner who testified earlier this week. Ms. Molnar, who weighed just 100 pounds and stood just over 5 feet tall, had bruising and pattern abrasions across her body. Additionally, she had a scalding — or burn — injury beginning at the top of her head and leading down her face, the deputy coroner said. 

Ms. Molnar suffered from a lacerated spline and kidney, bruised pancreas, and significant internal bleeding, she said. The deputy coroner said she’s seen similar injuries in traffic crashes. 

All of Ms. Molnar’s injuries were fairly recent, Dr. Pandey determined during the autopsy.

The trial is expected to continue Friday.

Contact Allison Dunn at adunn@theblade.com, 419-724-6506 or on Twitter @AllisonDBlade.

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