After six days, the jury trial for Serghei Comerzan, of Mexico, Mo., ended in a mistrial after the St. Charles County jury was deadlocked last Friday and was unable to reach a decision on Comerzan’s guilt.
Audrain County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Scott Fox and Special Assistant Prosecutor Stephanie Watson, from the Missouri Office of Prosecution Services, tried the case the week of May 19-26 at the St. Charles County Courthouse.
Another trial is scheduled for later in the year, also in St. Charles County, after the trial was moved there on a change of venue from Audrain County. Reportedly, the jury deliberated the case for more than 13 hours before telling Judge Ted House that they were unable to reach a verdict.
Comerzan has been charged with second degree murder and felony resisting arrest for the death of the late Missouri State Highway Patrol Troopler James Bava on August 28, 2015.
Trooper Bava was killed when his patrol car crashed on Route FF in Audrain County during his pursuit of Comerzan’s motorcycle. Comerzan was reportedly traveling 105 m.p.h.
“The jury’s failure to reach a verdict today does not end the Bava family’s pain at the loss of their son, brother, fiancée, and shining light,” said Prosecuting Attorney Jacob Shellabarger. “Although we are disappointed that the jury did not convict Mr. Comerzan, my office, the Missouri State Highway Patrol, and the court system remain prepared to try the case to a verdict. This trial jury should be commended for their focus, dedication, and thorough commitment to fully considering the law as applied to the facts of this case. Being a juror in a multi-day, complex jury trial is one of the most challenging tasks our justice system asks of ordinary citizens-to follow their duty and solemn oath to put the State to its burden to prove a defendant guilty.”
Shellabarger noted in a press release that jurors are hesitant to convict of murder based on actions that they believe don’t look like what they expect of murder.
“Missouri’s murder statutes need to be changed to reflect that this crime is different than ‘typical’ murder-it is the commission of a felony resulting in death, he said. “Beyond a reasonable doubt is a high standard, and for good reason. The jury had a difficult job to do, took it seriously, and then made its decision-that’s what we always ask them to do.”
Shellabarger also expressed his sympathy for those affected by this case.
“Our sympathy is with the Bava family and with members of our law enforcement community in Audrain County who are hurting and continue to hurt after this tragic loss,” Shellabarger said. “Many of our county’s officers were friends of James and this loss is personal and has a lasting impact. I wanted to publicly thank the St. Charles County Prosecuting Attorney Tim Lohmar and his staff for being gracious and hospitable hosts during this trial process. This case has been difficult for everyone involved and the family can continue to heal. A team concept of experience, knowledge, and combined resources allowed this case to be fully investigated and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. We will return to try this case to a verdict.”