A Washington County jury acquitted a Burgettstown man on aggravated assault and other charges stemming from a fight in Washington a year and a half ago.
The panel deliberated about 25 minutes on Wednesday before also finding Larry D. Dailey Jr., 29, not guilty of simple assault and reckless endangerment. During the trial, the defense argued Dailey had acted to protect himself early on Dec. 9, 2017, during the chain of events outside the 50 Yard Line Sports Pub on Henderson Avenue. Common Pleas Judge Valarie Costanzo presided over the trial.
“I spoke to a lot of the jurors, and they were all convinced that the self-defense instruction covered the entire case,” said Christopher Blackwell, the Washington attorney who represented Dailey.
City police had accused Dailey and another man – Brandon Allen, 31, of Washington – of attacking a third man, Billy Rogers, whose injuries included the loss of his left eye.
Allen pleaded guilty in December to aggravated assault in the case and received a sentence of 3 to 10 years in state prison. Prosecutors requested Allen’s transfer from SCI-Greene to Washington County jail during Dailey’s trial, but Allen wasn’t ultimately called to testify at Dailey’s trial.
Blackwell said his client had stopped to intervene when he saw Allen, a stranger, attacking his girlfriend.
Based on testimony from Dailey as well as a defense witness who’d been with Dailey that night and Mike Rozanc, a prosecution witness who was there that night and faced charges that were later withdrawn, Blackwell contended that Rogers had been shouting and acting aggressively toward his client when Rogers approached the group, and Dailey, in turn, defended himself.
Blackwell said Rogers had testified to a different account of events, in which he’d approached the group to see what was going on.
City police said the bar’s surveillance apparatus filmed Dailey pulling into the parking lot in his pickup and becoming involved with a fight involving Allen and an unspecified number of other people. Court papers said Dailey participated in the “unprovoked attack” on Rogers, punching and kicking him.
“Obviously, the verdict was not what we had hoped for,” said Assistant District Attorney John Friedmann. “But we respect the jury’s decision, and their hard and conscientious look at the evidence, including the video in this case, which clearly showed an assault.”
Costanzo instructed jurors that for them to find Dailey guilty, the prosecution had to demonstrate any one of several elements.
First, jurors could find either that Dailey didn’t “reasonably believe he was in danger of becoming the victim of unlawful force” so that he needed to protect himself, or that “his belief was unreasonable in light of all of the circumstances known to him.” Second, the judge said the self-defense argument would be null if Dailey had demonstrated his “intent to use unlawful force” against Rogers, provoking Rogers to attack him.