The trial of a 59-year-old man accused of threatening and attacking a jail guard a year ago ended Tuesday in acquittal.
A Washington County jury found Dino Paul – who previously was living in Pitcairn, Allegheny County – not guilty on charges of aggravated assault and terroristic threats.
The charges stemmed from an incident in the county jail June 22, 2018, when Paul allegedly threatened Correctional Officer Andrew Haburjack and Haburjack’s family, came at him and elbowed him while the guard subdued him, according to papers filed by city police.
Jurors deliberated for about half an hour at the end of a one-day trial before Common Pleas Judge Valarie Costanzo.
Assistant Public Defender Adam Yarussi said that Haburjack; another guard who was present for part of the incident; and city Detective Ronald Aiello, who filed the charges, testified for the prosecution.
Paul testified in his own defense. Yarussi said his client denied hitting Haburjack and said he’d spun around to get away from the other man, who he claimed had struck him. Haburjack denied doing so.
Paul also insisted he’d said something different from the threatening statement he was accused of having made, Yarussi added.
“I think the reason why he was acquitted was, there was conflicting testimony and the jury felt sympathetic for him,” Yarussi said. “And I also believe they concluded that what occurred between (Paul and Haburjack) did not constitute a crime.”
Assistant District Attorney John Friedmann tried the case for the government.
“We put on our case, and we respect the jury’s verdict,” Friedmann said.
Haburjack no longer works at the jail. He’s is now a police officer for a hospital, said Yarussi, who wasn’t sure which one.
Court records show that, at the time of the incident, Paul was facing a charge of violating Megan’s Law by failing to notify state police of his address as required under a previous conviction. He pleaded guilty in January and was sentenced to 8 to 16 months.
Yarussi said the reasons that Paul was in the jail were considered “prior bad acts” that would have been prejudicial to jurors, had it been part of the evidence in this week’s trial.