Bar bouncer acquitted of punching patron into a coma
A 27-year-old bar bouncer was found innocent of punching and
seriously injuring a former Clinton Township man.
A jury deliberated more than two hours Thursday before acquitting Aaron
Anthony Bossenbery of assault with intent to do great bodily harm less than
murder or a lesser offense for the Aug. 20 incident near the Post Bar in Mount
Bossenbery showed little facial expression when he heard the verdict and
moments later hugged his handful of supporters in courtroom.
"I'm glad it's over," Bossenbery said afterward, declining further comment.
Trial participants agreed the testimony of the single eyewitness to the
punch, William Pellow, was unreliable because of details that conflicted with
statements by others at the scene.
"Other stories from other people were not consistent with the eyewitness,"
juror Ollie Dryden said outside the courtroom after the verdict.
The victim, Gary Morris, 32, now of Waterford, suffered a skull fracture and
brain injury when he fell back and hit his head on the pavement. He was induced
into a coma for three or four days at Mount Clemens General Hospital before
moving to another facility. He has recovered but still experiences some
Morris, his brother, Joe, and another male friend, James Wagner, were
attacked shortly after the bar's closing time by a group of a half-dozen guys
who had been kicked out of the bar for hassling Joe Morris.
Pellow heard on the radio that the Macomb County Sheriff's Office was seeking
witnesses, contacted the sheriff's office and identified Bossenbery as the
puncher in a police lineup.
But Pellow was standing on a patio picnic table 50 to 75 feet away and had to
see through a crowd of people participating or standing near the scuffle. Pellow
initially told police of a different color shirt Bossenbery was actually wearing
and contradicted other witnesses about when Morris' shirt was pulled over his
head. Pellow also said Morris was hit on the left side of his face although the
wound was on the right side.
Circuit Court jurors told assistant Macomb prosecutor Yasmine Isshak they
would have liked to visit the Post Bar to see Pellow's vantage point from a
picnic table and questioned Pellow waiting six days to come forward. A $5,000
reward had been offered by the Morris family to anyone who could provide
information leading to a conviction.
Gary Morris and his family members could not be reached for comment Thursday.
Bossenbery's attorney, Corbett O'Meara, attacked Pellow's account and blasted
police and prosecution. He said police failed to further probe the incident by
not interviewing more witnesses or in greater detail, and Isshak tried to
"undermine my client's right to a fair trial" with "dirty tricks."
"I don't think the Macomb County Sheriff department and Macomb County
Prosecutor's Office lived up to their obligations," O'Meara said. "I believe he
(Bossenbery) is innocent but nobody knows because of the lousy job."
Detective Sgt. Chris Amey said he interviewed as many witnesses as possible
but hardly anyone except people who were with Morris and Post Bar employees came
forward with information. One anonymous caller provided a different person as
the puncher, but police believed the tipster was describing another man who was
Sheriff's deputies who responded to the scene initially concentrated on
helping Morris and controlling another fight that had broken out after the punch
of Morris, Isshak said.
Bossenbery on Wednesday took the stand in his defense and testified he ran to
the melee and helped break up the fight but denied striking Morris.
O'Meara also tried to depict Morris as the possible aggressor in the melee,
noting that he recently pleaded no contest in district court to a misdemeanor
assault charge, accused of attacking a man in Troy following a minor traffic
crash between their vehicles.
Morris was a high school football star in Oakland County and played football
at Western Michigan University.
During proceedings, O'Meara twice asked Judge Mary Chrzanowski for a
mistrial, once for Isshak asking a witness whether O'Meara committed an
"assault" against her and another for when Isshak suggested in closing arguments
that O'Meara should be able to come up with a witness to exonerate his client.
Isshak later said the "assault" was in reference to a verbal attack.
Chrzanowski denied the first request and took the second "under advisement."
She said Isshak would face a contempt hearing after the trial but one was not
scheduled after the verdict.
O'Meara also protested Isshak's comment in court that he
earned a general education degree instead of a high school diploma. Isshak said