Westminster sex abuse case ends in mistrial Ruling followed breach of pact

February 11, 1993|By Darren M. Allen | Darren M. Allen,Staff Writer

Carroll Circuit Judge Luke K. Burns Jr. declared a mistrial yesterday in the case of a Westminster man accused of sexually abusing his 17-year-old stepson.

The judge's ruling came a day after testimony about the alleged victim's sister -- and his mother's stay in jail -- was introduced despite an agreement between prosecutors and the defense attorney to keep those issues out of the trial.

The defendant, a 29-year-old carpenter, was accused of sexually abusing his stepson during a 19-month period that ended last February.

During the first day of the man's jury trial Tuesday, the stepson detailed sexual encounters that allegedly took place at the family's house, in the man's workshop and on a family vacation.

In an attempt to give the jury a possible reason for the stepson's accusations, Assistant Public Defender Samuel Truette asked the boy questions to establish that he was angry with his mother and stepfather for grounding him and forcing him to break up with a girlfriend who lives in Delaware.

To counter Mr. Truette's argument, Assistant State's Attorney Christy McFaul asked the boy why he decided to tell his mother about his accusations when he did. He said it was because his mother didn't believe similar allegations from his sister. His sister later recanted her story and said she was told by her brother to make the allegations, testimony revealed.

The boy, answering Ms. McFaul's questions, revealed that he told his mother of his allegations on June 4, after his mother got out of jail from a drug arrest the night before.

On Tuesday, Mr. Truette broke into a sweat and turned red-faced as he accused the boy of ruining his stepfather's life so that he could be with his "little girlfriend."

The boy now lives with the family of a new girlfriend in South Carroll.

Mr. Truette moved for the mistrial at the bench before Ms. McFaul brought up the subject of the boy's mother and sister in front of the jury.

Judge Burns withheld his ruling until yesterday, after he heard arguments from both attorneys.

Ms. McFaul said yesterday that she and Carroll State's Attorney Thomas E. Hickman hadn't decided if they would re-try the defendant.

Mr. Truette could not be reached for comment after the judge's ruling.

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