Mistrial declared in beating of woman over a parking space
A man charged with punching a woman into a comatose state and leaving her brain-damaged during a fight over a parking space went free Monday after jurors were unable to reach a verdict in the case.
Judge Lewis Stone declared a mistrial in the second-degree assault trial of Oscar Fuller, a 35-year-old electrician. Fuller had admitted hitting Lana Rosas, 25, but said he was acting in self-defense and did not intend to hurt her. A conviction would have required the jurors to believe Fuller wanted to seriously injure Rosas, who hit her head on the pavement after being punched.
Neither Fuller nor Rosas, who was in a coma for several days and suffered brain-damage, testified. After three days of deliberations, jurors last week told the judge they were deadlocked. He instructed them to keep deliberating, but on Monday they again said they could not reach a verdict. "The majority of us believe there is no benefit to continuing deliberations," the note read, according to DNAinfo.com, a local online news site.
Fuller could have been sentenced to seven years in prison if convicted.
His encounter with Rosas occurred last February in Manhattan's East Village neighborhood as Fuller searched for a parking space while en route to his own birthday party. Rosas was standing in a vacant spot saving it for a friend, and she refused to get out of the way when Fuller attempted to back into the space. The two argued, and Fuller eventually punched Rosas in the head and drove away.
Several witnesses took down his license plate number, and Fuller was arrested a few days later. In a videotaped statement to police, which was shown to jurors, Fuller said he didn't realize how badly injured Rosas was when he left the scene.
In the statement, Fuller also said he only "tapped" Rosas. Several prosecution witnesses, however, compared his stance when he threw the punch to a professional boxer's, and one said that Rosas' head hit the pavement so hard that the entire block heard the impact.
Prosecutors did not immediately say if they planned to re-try Fuller. Rosas' mother, Angie Harrison, who sat through the entire trial, was in the courtroom Monday but did not immediately respond to the mistrial. DNAinfo.com also said that Fuller had no comment as he left court.
-- Tina Susman in New York
Photo: Oscar Fuller, accused of beating a woman over a parking space, leaves court last week as jurors deliberated his fate. A judge Monday declared a mistrial in his assault case after the jury was unable to reach a decision. Credit: Seth Wenig / Associated Press