Man guilty on assault charge

Friday, February 26, 2010

A Belfast man was found guilty of aggravated assault and other charges as the result of a one-day trial Tuesday.

His jury of seven men and five women deliberated for nearly an hour before returning a guilty verdict for Kerry D. Calahan, 37, who's been in custody since his arrest on Sept. 20.

According to Lewisburg Police Officer Jackie Sands' report and testimony heard in court: Calahan forced his way into a home in Jackson Trailer Park just after midnight; assaulted his ex-girlfriend, who has an order of protection against him and her current boyfriend; stole both of their cell phones and fled on foot; and resisted arrest when he was found hiding in another house.

Calahan was reportedly intoxicated at the time.

The victim, the mother of Calahan's son, had taken out an order of protection against him, which is valid until July 10, this year, Circuit Court Clerk Elinor Foster testified.

Assistant District Attorney Eddie Barnard rested the state's case after Foster's testimony.

With the jury out of the courtroom, Circuit Court Judge Robert Crigler questioned Calahan, making sure that he had freely decided not to testify on his own behalf. The public defender's office didn't call any witnesses, so, with the jury back in their seats, prosecution and defense proceeded to closing arguments.

"I submit that the state has proved all six counts of this indictment," Barnard told the jury. He listed the counts for the jury -- aggravated burglary, aggravated assault, assault, two counts of theft under $500, and resisting arrest -- and said the necessary proof for all of them had been presented.

Calahan smiled and nodded when his lawyer, Bill Harold of the public defender's office, chose to focus on the victim, saying that she "did not respect the law" because she had ignored the order of protection. The victim admitted in court that she had invited Calahan into her home in the days before the incident to help care for their son, who was sick, and had been intimate with him. The theft of the phone was an accident, Harold said: Calahan mistook it for his own, which was identical. As for resisting arrest, Harold said, "Officer Sands handled it."

"Don't convict him of aggravated assault," Harold begged the jury.

"It's not about respect for the law," Barnard said, in his final words. "It's about the law, period. The order of protection was addressed to him. It didn't tell her how to behave." He challenged the jury to "figure out how to get around the facts" and predicted, "You can't do it."

On count one of the indictment, the jury returned a verdict of guilty of the lesser-included offense of aggravated criminal trespass, rather than the aggravated burglary the DA was asking for. On the other five counts, however, the verdict was guilty as charged.

A sentencing hearing is scheduled for April 7 and, as a formality, Calahan's bond was revoked, though he has remained jailed since his arrest.

"The state feels that he is dangerous to the community, and especially to his victim," Barnard concluded.