Jurors struggle to reach verdict in N.Y. parking assault case
Jurors deliberating the fate of a man charged with beating a woman in a fight over a parking space and leaving her brain-damaged have told the judge they are deadlocked, but they were ordered to resume their discussions after a lunch break Wednesday.
The indication that the jury would not be able to reach a decision came on the third day of deliberations in the assault trial of Oscar Fuller, a 35-year-old electrician who faces up to seven years in prison if convicted. He has pleaded not guilty to second-degree assault in the February encounter that left Lana Rosas, 25, in a coma for several days.
Fuller has admitted hitting Rosas after she refused to let him take a parking space in Manhattan but said he did not intend to cause serious harm. In a videotaped statement to police shown to jurors during the trial, Fuller said he got into his car and drove away after punching Rosas because he did not realize how badly injured she was. Fuller also said he did not hit Rosas until she had punched and scratched his face.
But prosecutors called several witnesses who portrayed Fuller as clearly enraged and described him balling up his fist and throwing the weight of his entire body into the punch that sent Rosas crashing head-first into the pavement. The altercation erupted late on a Friday night as Rosas stood in an empty parking space to save it for a friend. Fuller, who needed a place to park, arrived before Rosas' friend and began fighting with Rosas when she refused to let him park.
A police detective testified that Rosas still has slurred speech as a result of the damage to her brain and must wear a helmet to protect her skull. A neurosurgeon testified that Rosas' brain swelled so badly that parts of her skull had to be removed.
A conviction on the charge requires jurors to be convinced that Fuller intended to seriously injure Rosas.
Rosas' mother, Angie Harrison, who sat through the trial, said she did not want her daughter to know about the jurors' situation. "We won't tell her about this," the New York Post reported. "I don't know what to feel -- I just don't even understand it," the newspaper, which has covered the case extensively, quoted Harrison as saying.
-- Tina Susman in New York
Photo: Cars jockey for parking spots on a New York street. Credit: Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times