Mistrial declared at parking-assault trial
A judge declared a mistrial Monday after jurors said they were deadlocked on assault charges against an electrician who admitted hitting a woman who ended up brain-damaged in a faceoff over a New York City parking spot.
Jurors sent a note to the judge in Oscar Fuller’s trial on the fourth day of deliberations, saying: “We cannot reach a unanimous decision. The majority of us believe there is no benefit to continue deliberations.”
Fuller, 35, had faced a potential seven years in prison. Prosecutors told the judge they were prepared to retry the case. Fuller and Lana Rosas clashed in February over a Manhattan parking spot.
Fuller was trying to park his van there; Rosas was standing in the space to try to save it for her boyfriend. Prosecutors said Fuller hit Rosas in the face out of anger. Rosas — 8 inches shorter and 50 pounds lighter than Fuller — flew off her feet, prosecutors said.
The 25-year-old hit her head on the ground, was in a coma for about a week and still wears a helmet because of her injuries. This is not an ordinary punch. ... This is a massive, massive blow,” Manhattan Assistant District Attorney David Hammer told jurors in his closing argument. “Clearly, this man was in a rage.”
But Fuller said he hit Rosas after she ran up to him and punched him as he got out of his van.“Oscar Fuller was confronted with a young lady who acted very recklessly that night — a young lady who had a couple of stiff drinks in her,” defense lawyer Thomas A. Kenniff said in his summation.
Prosecutors didn’t prove Fuller intended to cause a serious injury, as the assault charge requires, Kenniff said. “It doesn’t mean any of us don’t sympathize with her plight. We all do. But those are the facts,” he said.
Neither Fuller nor Rosas testified, though jurors saw a videotape of a lengthy statement Fuller gave to police. In it, he said he was “in shock that she hit me.” Fuller is due back in court Jan. 5 to discuss the next steps in the case.
He declined to comment as he left court. Kenniff, his lawyer, said Fuller had “mixed feelings because, obviously, he wants closure.”
But, Kenniff said, “we can take some comfort, at the end of the day, that the jury was not convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. Fuller was guilty of this charge.” Rosas’ mother, Angie Harrison, and her family’s lawyer, David Oddo, declined to comment as they left court.