A jury found a New London man guilty Friday of punching and choking New London Police Chief Mark Holden after a two-day trial in Huron County Common Pleas Court.
The jurors deliberated for a little more than two hours before convicting Chad Murr, 32, of 44 Third St., of assaulting a police officer, a fourth-degree felony. He could face six to 18 months behind bars and a $5,000 maximum fine when he is sentenced April 29.
On Dec. 18, Murr's father called police to have his son removed from his home because was intoxicated and being disorderly, Huron County Prosecutor Russell Leffler said.
Murr had been released from the Huron County Jail about 7:30 that morning after serving time on an aggravated trespassing charge. Leffler said he believes the defendant may have been on a Christmas-related furlough and was supposed to return to the jail to serve more time.
"He started celebrating a little too early," he said. "You'd hope he'd behave for one day."
Holden said he was at the father's Third Street home only about three or four minutes before Murr attacked him.
"He was intoxicated and agitated ... probably (because) his dad called police," the chief said.
Leffler said Murr choked and punched the officer.
"Holden was busy fighting for his life ... using his night stick," the prosecutor added.
Leffler said he "can't have" people attacking police officers, admitting he is an advocate for authorities in altercations with suspects. He also mentioned that prosecuting such cases is difficult because some resisting arrest incidents could be interpreted as assaults.
"You have to draw the line somewhere," Leffler said.
Holden said he ended up with one cut between his eyes and another one going from his right eye down to his mouth and nose. Both he and Murr went to the hospital, where Murr received stitches.
"Other than getting cleaned up, I didn't need anything else," Holden said.
Leffler was pleased with the guilty verdict, saying he believes the jury listened to the evidence carefully. Holden was the only witness for the state while Murr's father was the sole defense witness.
Defense attorney David Longo couldn't be reached for comment Friday.
The Dec. 18 incident is not Murr's first brush with the law.
On Oct. 12, the state dismissed a 2007 burglary charge against him. Murr was sentenced March 4, 2004 to six months in jail and fined $1,000 as part of three years of probation for attempted trafficking in drugs.
"He needs help," Holden said Friday. "I imagine he has an alcohol problem."