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Jury acquits West York man of choking woman into unconsciousness

Liz Evans Scolforo
York Dispatch
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Jurors took about an hour last week to acquit a West York man of choking his child's mother until she passed out.

Zebulun Emir Sweeney, 31, was cleared of the charges of aggravated assault, strangulation, simple assault and harassment after a jury deliberated his fate for about an hour, according to his defense attorney, public defender Hollianne Snyder.

The trial began and ended Tuesday, May 21, she said.

"He has always maintained his innocence," Snyder told The York Dispatch.

The former alleged victim was called to the witness stand by the prosecution but didn't testify that she was choked, according to Snyder, who said the witness responded to a number of questions by saying she couldn't recall.

"I think the jury rendered the right verdict with the evidence that was presented at trial," she said.

Kyle King, spokesman for the York County District Attorney's Office, said prosecutors are disappointed but respect the jury's decision.

He declined to discuss the former alleged victim's testimony.

"As with any case, we believed the evidence presented would support a verdict of guilty," King wrote in a text.

The case was tried by deputy prosecutor Phoebe Yates, he said.

The allegations: West York Police had alleged that Sweeney choked the woman until she lost consciousness, then threw water on her to revive her.

Police said it happened in Sweeney's home, in the 1100 block of West Princess Street the afternoon of June 18, 2018.

Police had said he later told her, "You'll learn not to talk to me like that."

Sweeney and the woman, who was 29 at the time, were no longer romantically involved, but she had driven him home from work that day.

Police at the time said that the woman still had red marks around her neck and that her clothing was still wet when they spoke with her.

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.