CLEARFIELD – A jury of eight women and four men deliberated for approximately 48 minutes Wednesday afternoon before finding a Brockway man not guilty of assaulting a DuBois woman.
Terrance L. Sloan, 43, was found not guilty of felony aggravated assault and misdemeanor simple assault and recklessly endangering another person.
First Assistant District Attorney Ryan Dobo prosecuted the case on behalf of the commonwealth. Sloan was represented by defense attorney Lance T. Marshall of State College.
The jury entered into its deliberations at approximately 1:12 p.m. and reached its verdict at approximately 2 p.m. Following the verdict, Sloan rose and shook his attorney’s hand.
During the trial, the commonwealth alleged that Sloan was responsible for striking and breaking a DuBois woman’s jaw Nov. 26 at her South Main Street apartment.
Before Dobo rested his case Wednesday morning, jurors heard expert testimony from Dr. Jeffrey Rice, an oral surgeon also affiliated with Penn Highlands Hospital.
He said on Nov. 28, the PH DuBois Emergency Department referred a woman patient to him because she’d suffered a severe facial trauma.
Rice said an x-ray showed the woman’s jaw was fractured in two places, and she was scheduled to have an outpatient surgery the following day.
He said when she opened and closed her mouth, her bones rubbed together, and she also had nerve damage in the lower part of her mouth.
He said bone plates were subsequently used to stabilize the fracture, and the rest of her lower teeth were removed as part of the surgery.
Following her surgery, Rice said the woman was restricted to a liquid diet for one to two weeks. He said he wasn’t surprised to hear she still has problems eating, speaking, etc.
Rice said it requires a “substantial blow” to break someone’s jaw, and such an injury can cause death if it results in severe bleeding or interference with an airway.
However, under cross-examination by Marshall, he said he’s been an oral surgeon for approximately 39 years, and he’s never seen severe facial trauma from a single blow result in a patient’s death.
The defense called three witnesses including Sloan, who took the stand in his own defense. Each gave a little bit different account of what happened Nov. 26.
Sloan’s current girlfriend said she went to the woman’s DuBois residence with another female, Sloan and an unknown male.
At the time, she said the other female was also in a relationship with Sloan and pregnant, and it was believed he was the baby’s father.
She said Sloan’s other girlfriend had found someone to purchase his car, and believed he was at the DuBois residence. When they first got there, she said they went to a side door.
She said they’d knocked for a couple minutes, and because there wasn’t an answer, the other three went around to the front door. She stayed behind in case someone eventually answered.
When she began to hear screaming, she went around front. She said she heard arguing and scuffling noises inside the woman’s home, then saw the woman go “flying” across the kitchen.
Because she was behind Sloan, she said her view was obstructed, and she didn’t see who actually struck the woman. However, she said it couldn’t have been Sloan.
According to her story, the woman only had her door partially open, and this would’ve blocked Sloan from throwing a punch. She also said if Sloan had struck the woman, she would’ve felt it.
Under cross-examination, Dobo asked Sloan’s current girlfriend if she heard Sloan called a racial slur. She replied yes and that this occurred as she came around to the front door.
On Tuesday, both the woman and Sloan’s other girlfriend at the time testified that the woman called Sloan a racial slur, and he immediately struck her in the jaw with a closed fist.
Sloan’s girlfriend said the other two from their group took off, and when she heard “something about a gun,” Sloan told her to “go,” and they left.
The defense’s second witness said he was friends with the DuBois woman’s boyfriend, and he was at their residence Nov. 26 when Sloan and three others showed up.
He said he and the woman’s boyfriend had plans to steal the rims off Sloan’s car. However, he said the woman exposed these plans to Sloan, and used a racial slur when she ordered him to leave.
This, he claimed, caused the woman’s boyfriend to strike her in the face from behind. Under cross-examination, Dobo asked how it was possible for the woman’s boyfriend to strike her jaw from behind.
He said the man was able to reach around from behind and strike her, which caused her to fall sideways onto the floor. Dobo then told the witness: “… your story doesn’t even make sense.”
The male said when the woman was struck, the door was the whole way open, Sloan was standing outside on the porch and he didn’t see anyone attempt to block the doorway.
Sloan was last to testify and said he didn’t know the DuBois woman prior to Nov. 26, and there wasn’t any animosity between them. At the time, he said he had two girlfriends and one was pregnant, and they were in need of money.
He said his then girlfriend had found a buyer for his car, and they went to the residence to try to sell it to this male individual. He said they knocked at a side door, then on the front door.
Eventually, he said the woman answered and started to ask about his car, and he was confused by this because he wasn’t there “to do business with her.”
Sloan said the woman ordered him off her porch and called him a racial slur. Even though he was upset by this, he said it’s not the first time this has happened to him around here.
Sloan denied having punched the woman and blamed the assault on her boyfriend who he said was the only male inside the couple’s residence.
He said the male came outside after striking the woman, and Sloan asked if he intended to “protect her honor.” But he said the male retreated and he left the area.
In closing, Marshall argued the woman didn’t suffer a substantial injury because she had an outpatient surgery and was released about five hours later.
He said she alleged she had four complete strangers show up at her door, that she was punched in the face and realized immediately she had suffered a broken jaw but never called police.
Marshall said then, the woman waited about 34 hours to seek treatment at Penn Highlands DuBois Hospital, which is within walking distance of her home. This, he said, was all done in her effort to protect her boyfriend who actually committed the crime.
“Her story is unbelievable,” he argued, adding that the surveillance video of the alleged assault wasn’t clear, “just like the commonwealth’s case.”
Marshall said: “If you have to sit, guess and flip a coin, it’s reasonable doubt.” He asked jurors to find Sloan not guilty of all charges.
Dobo countered, saying Sloan was guilty of each and every charge. “There’s no doubt in my mind that we have the right man [seated at the defense table].”
He said the woman didn’t know any of the individuals in the group, she opened her door and was punched in the face. When shown a photo lineup, he said it took her 10-20 seconds to identify Sloan as her perpetrator.
He reminded jurors of the expert testimony of the oral surgeon who said severe facial trauma can certainly place someone at substantial risk of death.
Dobo said today, about nine months after the alleged incident, the woman still has problems eating and speaking, plus suffers from frequent numbness in the lower part of her mouth.