posted on March 26, 2014 18:55
A verdict is in for the Batavia man charged with assaulting someone outside the Harvester bar: not guilty.
After about two hours of deliberations on a second-degree felony assault charge, the jury released a not guilty verdict at about 5:30 Wednesday evening.
Shane Bell, 47, had been in custody at the Genesee County Jail since the August incident. He was accused of striking 51-year-old Scott Baker outside of the Harvester Bar last August. They spilled outside of the bar where Bell said he was being pestered by Baker. In police statements, Bell said he didn’t hit Baker as hard as he could have and did not intend to cause serious injury to Baker. Witnesses testified that after Bell hit Baker, Baker fell straight as a board onto the pavement where he hit his head.
Bell’s attorney William Tedford said he believes that for the jury it came down to self-defense over the intent to cause serious injury.
“I think that would have been the only basis for them to have found Mr. Bell not guilty,” he said, “that he was justified in defending himself based on the actions of Mr. Baker and the threats of Mr. Baker and following Mr. Bell across the street and the continuous threats.”
Tedford said he was surprised by the speedy deliberations.
“If you focus on the justification issue and come to some kind of consensus on that,” he said, “then it sort of – not that it makes the other issues moot – but I think it would expedite the discussion some, but I was also shocked.”
The incident occurred after a day of drinking. The jury was tasked with deciding if Bell intended to seriously injure Baker. Bell did not deny throwing the punch that left Baker in a coma for weeks. Testimony indicted Baker is now confined to a nursing home fed by a tube.
District Attorney Lawrence Friedman says he’s disappointed.
“I believed in this case and it’s certainly my belief that the defendant committed this crime. Obviously I have to accept and respect the verdict of the jury,” he said.
Tedford blamed Baker for the incident in the defense’s closing statements. He had this to offer to the victim and his family: “I know Mr. Bell and I both strongly believe in and agree with the verdict, but again, (Baker’s) injuries are extremely unfortunate and we’re very apologetic that it even happened,” Tedford said.
And as for Bell? Tedford spoke on behalf of his client.
“Obviously he’s thrilled,” he said. “He’s been in custody for seven months. He’s excited to get home, see his dog, have a home-cooked meal, and just excited to get out of the Genesee County Jail.”