A week-long trial for a defense attorney accused of assaulting his ex-wife has ended in a mistrial.
Senior Judge Thomas M. Piccione declared a mistrial this afternoon in the case against Gerald Benyo Jr., 50 of Rochester, who stood accused of assaulting his then-estranged wife Sharon Benyo, 44, in Oct. 2018.
The couple has since divorced.
Beaver County Detectives had filed one harassment and two simple assault charges against Benyo stemming from the alleged incident.
Jurors were impaneled on Sept. 13 and heard a week of testimony before beginning deliberations on Friday. Unable to reach a verdict, Piccione ordered jurors to return today to continue deliberations.
Jurors must agree unanimously for a verdict to be rendered in a case.
Jurors remained deadlocked throughout the day, eventually leading Piccione to declare a mistrial. Courthouse sources tell BeaverCountian.com that jurors were split 8 to 4 in favor of acquittal.
The Double Jeopardy Clause in the 5th Amendment to the United States Constitution prevents a defendant from being prosecuted twice for the same alleged crime, although that prevision only takes effect after a verdict is reached in a case.
District Attorney David Lozier told BeaverCountian.com he has not yet made a decision as to whether or not he will be refiling the charges.
“We will discuss the case over the next few days and consult the victim,” Lozier said.
Benyo has denied any wrongdoing and told BeaverCountian.com he is ready and willing to go up against Lozier’s prosecutors again.
“I estimate the District Attorney’s Office already spent over 400 hours prosecuting me thus far and Mr. Lozier can consult whomever he needs to help him make a decision,” Benyo said.
“I will be ready for trial as many times as may be necessary to be completely exonerated of the crimes charged based upon the ever changing facts related to the County Detectives by their star witness and her boyfriend.”
Sharon had been transported from the Beaver County Jail to testify against Benyo during his trial.
The case against Benyo was initiated after Beaver County Sheriff’s deputies noticed injuries to Sharon Benyo’s face and body on Oct. 30 as they were serving her an arrest warrant for failing to appear for a court action. Beaver Falls police had charged her on Oct. 1 with possession of drug paraphernalia, disorderly conduct and public drunkenness.
Charges for her alleged assault were first filed against Benyo by Beaver Falls police on Nov. 7, and dropped after Sharon Benyo changed her story. The DA’s office then refiled the charges against him on Nov. 19 without Beaver Falls’ initial additional felony aggravated assault charge.
Lozier chose to file the reduced charges because Sharon Benyo said she was inebriated when the alleged attack occurred and claimed she was later detoxing and remembering different details.
Benyo ran for district attorney in 2015, losing to Lozier in the Republican primary election.
BeaverCountian.com contributing editor Lori Boone contributed to this report.