Jury: Passenger not guilty in Glen Rock cop-dragging trial
A jury has acquitted the front-seat passenger in a car that dragged a Southern Regional police officer about 100 feet down Water Street in Glen Rock.
David Achstetter, 38, of Ocean Pines, Maryland, was found not guilty of aggravated assault, hindering the apprehension of a suspect, unlawful restraint, simple assault, reckless endangerment and criminal mischief.
The jury deliberated for roughly an hour before reaching their verdict on Friday, March 23.
The prosecution's theory was that Achstetter held on to the arm of Officer Michael Storeman as the driver of the car, Roberto Tabares Jr., took off, driving into the opposing lane and running a stop sign as they fled the borough. It happened Nov. 4, 2015.
Defendant took stand: But Achstetter told the jury from the witness stand on Thursday he never touched the officer. Tabares testified for the defense, and he claimed Storeman held on to the car himself.
Defense attorney Joe Gothie said he was relieved by the verdict, adding it's always scary to take a serious case to trial because no one knows how juries will react.
"I felt a tremendous amount of pressure because I genuinely believe my client was innocent in this case, and those are the hardest (cases)," he said. "Basically we had two competing theories, and the jury agreed with ours. I'm grateful for that."
Gothie noted it was likely a tough decision for jurors and undoubtedly a difficult case for Storeman.
Deputy prosecutor Jonathan Blake said the commonwealth put on a good case and respects the jury's verdict.
The background: Storeman approached Tabares' car about 4:40 p.m. after someone reported it as being suspicious, with possible drug activity.
Tabares' girlfriend, Jenny Kim, was in the back seat injecting heroin into her arm when Storeman got to the car, testimony revealed. She yelled for Tabares to "go go go," and he took off.
Storeman testified he was dragged for about 100 feet before being thrown free of the car, which ran a stop sign and turned left onto Hanover Street. He said he ran alongside the car at first, but then lost his footing and was dragged.
"I know I was grabbed, pulled (and) the vehicle took off. ... A lot happened in a couple seconds," the officer testified during the weeklong trial. "My right arm was pulled into the (car's) compartment. ... I had no choice but to move with the vehicle."
Feared he would die: Storeman testified Tuesday that he thought he was going to die and said it felt as if the car was going 100 mph. He was 40 years old at the time.
Charges against Kim, 40, of Germantown, Maryland, were dropped immediately before the trial started.
Tabares, 40, of Rockville, Maryland, pleaded guilty in May 2017 to aggravated assault and reckless endangerment. He served about 30 months in York County Prison, according to court records.
— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at email@example.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.