Reihner trial jury deliberations continued Wednesday night

January 15, 2014

A year and a half after two brothers were beaten in Houston, Cameron Reihner’s defense attorney focused on inconsistencies in testimony elicited by the prosecution in an attempt to have a Washington County Court jury acquit his client.

Peter V. Marcoline III noted that Amanda Wilson, a Good Samaritan who saw the early-morning melee as she drove toward Canonsburg on West Pike Street, testified that she was 12 feet away but saw no baseball bats. Marcoline also pointed to the lack of medical testimony as to what caused the injuries June 23, 2012, to Jonathan Irizarry, 28, of Houston.

And he also claimed Stephen Irizarry, the brother less seriously injured in the fight, pursued Reihner and his friends, provoking the attack.

But Assistant District Attorney Michael Fagella told the jury a doctor did not need to testify because the jurors heard from Jonathan Irizarry about the seriousness of his injuries, which included facial fractures, a broken nose, a broken ankle and loss of peripheral vision in one eye, before the victim limped from the jury box. It would have been impossible to suffer a broken ankle from pummeling by fists, Fagella said.

Jonathan Irizarry was not present in the courtroom Wednesday, but Fagella explained that it was not from lack of interest in the outcome of the case but that the witness had fallen ill Monday night and was hospitalized.

“All of the inconsistencies you heard are inconsequential,” Fagella said, noting that Jonathan Irizarry said Reihner struck him first.

The assistant district attorney also said Reihner and those in his car were luring the Irizarrys into “a bushwhacking situation” that took place in the parking lot of a business in the 100 block of West Pike Street. The Irizarry brothers had been drinking, which Fagella said gave them “Dutch courage.”

Marcoline questioned whether Reihner or his 21-year-old co-defendant, who posted bond in September 2012, were responsible for the beatings. The co-defendant is awaiting trial on identical charges.

The fight in Houston was a continuation of a confrontation that began during a late-night meal June 23, 2012, at Denny’s Restaurant on West Chestnut St., Washington, among people who did not know each other. Jonathan Irizarry testified that Reihner and his friends then followed him, his wife, his brother and another woman home to First Street, Houston.

The panel entered the jury room at about 12:30 p.m. Wednesday but had not rendered a verdict by 6 :30p.m.

Before the attorneys made their final pitch to the jury Wednesday morning, the judge questioned a juror if her witnessing Reihner being placed in a marked sheriff’s car after the close of testimony Tuesday would color her impartiality.

“No, not at all,” she replied.

The juror said she didn’t expect to linger on the courthouse steps, but that her husband was late in arriving to driver her home.

Neither Marcoline nor Fagella had any questions for the juror, who had been placed under oath, and neither voiced objections during the brief court proceeding to her remaining on the panel as one of seven women and five men.

Reihner has been an inmate in the county jail and, as is the custom, sheriff’s deputies escorted him to and from the courtroom daily for the trial.

Barbara S. Miller covers politics, Washington County government and a variety of other topics for the Observer-Reporter. She is a graduate of Washington & Jefferson College, majoring in English and history. Follow her on Twitter @reporterbarb.

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