A jury deliberated for about 90 minutes Thursday before acquitting a New London man of punching a convicted sex offender in the jaw.
Nicholas A. Kidd, 25, of 1546 S. U.S. 250, was charged with felonious assault in connection with a Sept. 24 incident. The defendant testified Wednesday he punched the 28-year-old man in the face, but only after he told his accuser, who was in his "personal space" without provocation, to get away from him. Kidd also said his accuser made him feel like he couldn't walk away from the confrontation.
Huron County Public Defender David Longo said this was only the second case in his 25 years of practicing law in which one of his clients "turned down the misdemeanor," went to trial on a felony and won the case. If Kidd had been convicted of felonious assault, he faced two to eight years in prison.
"He took a big chance," Longo said.
Kidd turned down a plea deal from the state which would have meant he served 100 days in the Huron County Jail on the work release program. Longo said the sentence would have cost Kidd, a single father, his job since it requires him to travel and sometimes stay overnight.
The New London incident sent Kidd's accuser to Fisher-Titus Medical Center with a fractured jaw. The man was using a riding lawnmower to cut his uncle's yard when Kidd walked by the residence. The defendant said his accuser "got nose to nose in my face."
"I felt like I couldn't get away," Kidd said.
"He'd already came at me. He'd already hit me," he said about being head-butted.
"It didn't do any damage, but it stunned him," Kidd's attorney told the jury.
Kidd could make out where the other man was standing and "aimed for the cheap seats," Longo said.
"This is a one-punch case. ... Unfortunately, it cracked his jaw," Longo said.
"This is the case of the bully with the glass jaw. ... He started a fight he couldn't finish," he said.
Huron County Prosecutor Russell Leffler, when asked about the verdict, said he's "very disappointed."
"It was fisticuffs and that makes it tough," he said.
Kidd was accused of calling the other man "a pedophile" before the assault -- an allegation which Kidd denied.
Longo, in his closing argument Thursday, said it doesn't make sense for Kidd, someone with no history of violence, to start a fight. However, the public defender said it's more logical for an ex-convict to be the aggressor after something set him off -- which could have been something as simple as the way Kidd looked at him.
Longo also encouraged the jurors not to forget that Kidd's accuser lied about Kidd kicking him after he hit the ground. Testimony indicated that allegation wasn't in the report by New London Police Sgt. Joe Hicks.
Leffler said it's possible the man tried to make the situation sound better than it was and his manhood was "offended" since he was knocked out by one punch from Kidd.