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Sirens & Gavels

Posts tagged: acquittals

Jury clears grandma of pot grow charge

UNIONTOWN, Pa. (AP) — A southwestern Pennsylvania grandmother says she's no marijuana grower, just a woman who wanted something that would look pretty next to her tomatoes.

A Fayette County jury cleared 67-year-old Alberta Kelley of drug possession and manufacture charges on Jan. 6 after she told them she simply tossed a handful of seeds into her garden after a bearded stranger gave them to her.

Connellsville police charged Kelley a year ago after receiving a tip about Kelley's garden. Investigators say they found seven well-cultivated, four-foot marijuana plants behind her home.

But Kelley claimed she didn't know what she was growing. She said she'd been given the seeds by a stranger in a pointy hat who told her they were flower seeds.

Kelley tells WTAE-TV that to her, “weeds are weeds.”

Last suspect in Uno stabbing acquitted

A teenager involved in a shooting at Hoopfest last summer was acquitted of charges conencte dto an unrelated stabbing outside a Spokane nightclub in 2009.

A jury found Adam Doe, 19, not guilty of two counts of first-degree assault last week after a trial before Spokane County Superior Court Judge Sam Cozza.
The case began in October 2009 when two men were stabbed outside Club Uno .

 Doe had a tentative plea deal in the case until his arrest in the June 28 Hoopfest shooting. He pleaded guilty in February to second-degree assault and third-degree assault in connection with the shooting. Gunman Miguel C. Garcia, 20, also pleaded guilty that month to three felonies and is expected to receive nine years in prison.

At the time of the shooting, Doe was supposed to be on house arrest after his release from jail on the Club Uno stabbing charge.

The main suspect in the stabbing, John Proctor, was acquitted of all charges after a jury trial last October. Proctor was near the scene of the wild fight but said he did not participate and was falsely accused; the jury quickly acquitted him.


Also charged in the stabbing were brothers Rashjel G. “Reggie” Cage and Rakee D. Cage, who pleaded guilty to attempted second-degree assault. Parrish J. Johnson pleaded guilty to riot; William Alexander-Durr’s charge was dismissed.

Jury acquits man of house theft, arson

A jury acquitted a man accused of the theft and arson of his former landlord's Spokane home.

Stephen J. Czako, 26, was found not guilty after a trial before Superior Court Judge Tari Etizen.

Czako said he was buying the home at 4621 N. Post St. from Joanne Tucker; Tucker (pictured) says he forged her signature.

Investigators said Czako set the home on fire in October 2008, but jurors didn't buy the claim.

Czako was repsrented by Chris Phelps.

His sister, Shannon Czako, is scheduled to stand trial next month on charges attempted first-degree theft and official misconduct for allegedly using a notary on a document she knew was forged.

Past coverage: June 3, 2009: Suspicious blaze at center of house dispute

Man shot by police acquitted of assault

A Spokane Valley man was cleared Thursday of charges that he assaulted the sheriff’s deputies who shot him in 2009, leaving him paralyzed below the chest.

David J. Glidden, 28, broke into tears as the Spokane County Superior Court jury read the verdict of “not guilty” on two counts of third-degree assault on law enforcement officers, neither of whom were injured.

“The cops overreacted. They shot me so many times. I was worried that no one would listen to me,” Glidden said after the decision.

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

Past coverage:

Nov. 9, 2009: Man shot by police: 'It will be on the news'

Nov. 4, 2009: Man shot by police had pellet gun

Jury acquits man of attempted murder

A Deer Park man was acquitted Thursday of allegations that he’d kidnapped his wife and her new lover and tried to throw them off a bridge.

 A jury of seven men and five women found David E. Epley (pictured) not guilty of two counts of attempted first-degree murder and two counts of first-degree kidnapping for the May 12, 2009, incident.

“I think it was grossly overcharged,” said Epley’s lawyer, Gloria Ochoa. “At most what (prosecutors) had was maybe an assault, but it was not first-degree premeditated attempted murder.”

Spokane County Deputy Prosecutor Kyle Treece declined comment. The jury deliberated for about a day.

Read my full story here.

Past coverage:

Dec. 2: Trial begins in love triangle case

Oct. 5, 2009: Police: Accused killer wrote rape suspect’s alleged victim

June 1, 2009: New charges in bridge-pushing case

May 13, 2009: Man charged with kidnapping, attempted murder

Jury acquits felon in deputy assault case

A jury recently cleared a Spokane man of an assault allegation stemming from an altercation with a Spokane police officer last fall. 

Tvar L. Jackson, 30, acknowledged he was “acting like a jerk,” said his public defender, Kevin Griffin.

“But police are trained to deal with people who are in stressful situation and who are argumentative,” Griffin said.

Jackson was driving eastbound on East Francis Avenue near North Nevada Street on Sept. 5, 2009, when Deputy Chuck Sciortino stopped him and said a brake light was not working. Jackson yelled profanities and Sciortino and said, “Cops ain’t got nothing better to do then harass a black man,” according to court documents. Backup units arrived, and a sheriff’s helicopter was overhead.

Sciortino said Jackson headbutted him, but jurors took less than an hour to reject that claim and acquit Jackson, a former Crime Stoppers fugitive described by police as a repeat offender and gang suspect.

“There definitely wasn’t enough evidence,” said juror Seth Barnes, 21. “It wouldn’t make sense that he would headbutt the officer and then not proceed to try to run away.”

The helicopter’s thermal imaging video was obstructed by a tree during the altercation, Barnes said. No pictures were available of Sciortino after the alleged headbutt to his face, and he spoke of no serious injuries.

“We deliberated maybe 20 minutes,” Barnes said. Jackson was acquitted last week.

Griffin said the case seemed like a “fishing expedition” by police against Jackson, a sex offender with a long criminal history.

“A lot of third-degree assault charges seem like they’re a bit overcharged,” Griffin said. “But officers have a tough job and we appreciate that.”

Jackson has five previous convictions for third-degree assault and one for second-degree assault.

Jury acquits man in Club Uno stabbing

A jury on Friday acquitted a Spokane man of an assault charge connected to a stabbing outside a downtown nightclub last fall.

John D. Proctor, 25, was found not guilty of first-degree assault and not guilty of a lesser included offense, riot.

Proctor said he was wrongly accused. He criticized news stations for reporting he was the assailant without calling him a suspect and said the case has affected his wife and three children.

“It was a terrible thing,” Proctor said. “I’ve been nervous just going out.”

Proctor said he was present the night two men were stabbed during a large fight outside Club Uno, 515 W. Sprague Ave., but that he didn’t stab anyone.

Jurors apparently agreed, deliberating less than half a day before finding Proctor innocent.

Proctor, who has been out of jail on $75,000 bond, said his arrest has made him much more careful about who he hangs out with.

The Oct. 28 stabbing injured Kenneth R. Budik and Charles L. Lucious. Witnesses said one of defendants said, “There’s Kenny! Murder One Crips!” and “You messed with Murder One,” before the attack, according to court documents. Budik was a victim in a shooting in 2007 that killed gang member Adama Walton.

Budik testified, and jurors viewed a video taped deposition from Lucious, who is in federal custody for a case based in Nevada.

Also testifying during the four-day trial was Rashjel G. “Reggie” Cage, 24. Cage and his brother, Rakee D. Cage, 23, have pleaded guilty to attempted second-degree assault for their roles in the case. Parrish J. Johnson pleaded guilty to riot; William Alexander-Durr’s charge was reduced to a gross misdemeanor then dismissed.

The only remaining suspect is Adam Doe, who also is charged in connection with the shooting at Hoopfest in June.

Spokane County Deputy Prosecutor Steve Garvin prosecuted the case; Proctor’s lawyer was John Stine.

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