XENIA — After a full day of trial and almost five hours of deliberation, a Greene County jury could not reach a verdict for a Kentucky man who was arrested after allegedly assaulting a peace officer.
The trial began Jan. 30 and the jury announced that they were deadlocked the next morning.
Because the jury could not agree on a verdict, Judge Stephen Wolaver declared a mistrial, meaning the case is still pending and will be retried at a future date.
Vincent P. Lyday Jr., 26, was charged with assault, a fourth degree felony, after a regular traffic stop on the side of Interstate 675 turned into a physical altercation.
The events began around 10 p.m. March 15, 2016 when Beavercreek Patrol Officer Tyler Fruhwirth pulled over Lyday for speeding.
“During this traffic stop,” Assistant Prosecutor Nicole Burke said during her opening statements, “things did not go as Officer Tyler Fruhwirth had expected.”
According to Burke and later testimony, Fruhwirth learned that Lyday’s driver’s license was suspended. Fruhwirth then offered his cell phone to Lyday so that he could call for a ride home. While all of this was unfolding, Fruhwirth allegedly smelled alcohol on Lyday’s breath and proceeded to submit him to an O.V.I. checkpoint.
When Lyday became uncooperative, Burke explained, Fruhwirth tried to detain him.
“And that’s when all hell broke loose,” Burke continued.
In Fruhwirth’s written police report, he wrote, “Vincent then tried to tackle me and pushed me into the guardrail … ”
Below the guardrail was a 20-25-foot drop, Fruhwirth testified during court.
“I felt him grab for my Taser [to] remove it from its holster,” Fruhwirth continued in his report, “however he was unable to.”
Fruhwirth also testified that Lyday tried to push him into the open highway toward oncoming traffic.
A second witness in the court’s proceedings, Patrol Deputy James Hughes from the Greene County Sheriff’s Office, arrived to the scene to provide backup.
Evidence presented in the trial included cruiser videos of portions of the events and pictures of Fruhwirth’s injuries, which included scrapes and cuts on his wrist, hands and fingers. Fruhwirth also said he suffered a sprained knee and his watch was broken.
In defense attorney Andrew Schlueter’s opening remarks, he described what happened when Lyday was making his way home and got pulled over.
“In the process, he made a mistake,” Schlueter said. “When the officer tried to put Lyday in the patrol car, he ran. In the course of running, the officer would fall to the ground, and that’s how he sustained his injuries. Vincent didn’t intend to hurt anybody.”
Lyday took the stand, testifying that while the “respectful” police officer was just doing his job, things escalated.
“It just got out of hand when I wanted to know more information,” Lyday said.
Lyday said that he was “nervous” when Fruhwirth was trying to put him in the cruiser.
“ … when he was trying to get me to his cruiser he started to get a little bit more aggressive and I didn’t trust him because we were on the highway alone in the dark,” Lyday said.
Lyday continued, saying he felt “uncomfortable” and tried to pull away, not intending to escape but to move the two of them to a visible location “in case something happened.”
Lyday said that while he did try to push the officer away, he “didn’t even think about his Taser” and didn’t try to push him into traffic. Lyday said that the two of them “got tangled up” and fell to the ground.
After the two witnesses and the defendant testified in court, both parties offered closing arguments.
Burke asked the jury to find Lyday guilty of assault, stating that Lyday “did knowingly cause or attempt to cause physical harm to another.”
Schlueter argued that there was not sufficient evidence to show the defendant’s intent to harm Fruhwirth, and that while the events were unfortunate, they were not a crime.
“We can’t let sympathy be a guiding force when it comes to making a decision about a man’s guilt,” Schlueter said. “It has to be reason. It has to be evidence.”
Burke followed with a rebuttal, stating, “It comes down to credibility.”
Contact Anna Bolton at 937-502-4498.
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