A New Freedom man who cursed, yelled and apparently "lunged" at his ex-wife in a southern York County district courtroom was acquitted Friday of witness intimidation.
Jurors deliberated 15 or 20 minutes before exonerating Jerome Carl Foltz, according to his court-appointed defense attorney, George Margetas.
"The evidence just wasn't there," the attorney said. "It's the quickest verdict I've ever had."
Both Margetas and senior deputy prosecutor RJ Fisher said to prove witness intimidation, the prosecution must prove it was the defendant's intent to stop the witness from testifying, or to keep the witness from cooperating with law enforcement.
"While it's not impossible, it's difficult to show what an individual was thinking at the time," Fisher said. "I do think this is a case that needed to go to a jury, if for no other reason than to illustrate that ... we are going to do our best to protect (crime victims and witnesses) and to ensure that, as a victim, you're not going to be intimidated."
Vandalism charge: After Fisher finished presenting his case, Common Pleas Judge Gregory M. Snyder rendered a judgment of acquittal on Foltz's charge of institutional vandalism, at the request of Margetas.
That charge had been lodged because drywall in the holding cell of District Judge Jeff Joy's Shrewsbury Township office was damaged when a state constable pinned Foltz against a wall to keep him under control, trial testimony revealed.
"(The judge) said the element of intent just wasn't there," Margetas said.
Immediately after the jury announced its verdict, Snyder found Foltz guilty of disorderly conduct and sentenced him to the maximum allowed by law — a $300 fine and 90 days in prison, with credit for time served, Margetas said. In Pennsylvania, juries typically don't determine guilt on summary offenses.
The allegations: Foltz's ex-wife, Susan Foltz, testified against him at a July 11, 2013, preliminary hearing before Judge Joy on unrelated charges.
He muttered things under his breath and called her a liar while she was on the stand, she testified on Thursday.
After the preliminary hearing, as a state constable was leading a cuffed and shackled Jerome Foltz to an adjacent holding cell, Foltz called his ex-wife a "f—ing bitch" and lunged at her, according to trial testimony.
He did not make contact with her, but she fell scrambling over courtroom folding chairs to get away from him, testimony revealed.
Margetas made sure jurors knew his client made no threatening statements toward Susan Foltz, and that his outburst happened after she had already testified.
The attorney also didn't mince words about Jerome Foltz during his closing argument Friday morning.
"I called him an ass," Margetas said. "He got overtaken by his emotions (that day). I feel as though the commonwealth was overreaching on this one. ... The jurors, to their credit, did the right thing."
Still locked up: Jerome Foltz remains in prison, unable to post bail on the DUI and simple assault case that Judge Joy presided over at preliminary hearing.
Margetas said he will file a motion requesting Foltz is released on nominal bail, which is $1. According to state law, a defendant locked up on a pending criminal case for more than six months has the right to be released on nominal bail.
Foltz has been in York County Prison nearly 14 months, Margetas said.
In that case, Foltz is accused of driving a riding lawn mower on New Freedom streets while drunk, and also is accused of punching Susan Foltz in the head.
He maintains his innocence, Margetas said.
— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at firstname.lastname@example.org.