Tonawanda News

October 30, 2013

Hung jury declared in McNamara trial

By Jessica Bagley jessica.bagley@tonawanda-news.com
The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — Niagara County Court Judge Sara Sheldon Farkas has declared a hung jury in the case of Bradley McNamara, the North Tonawanda man accused of sexually abusing his stepdaughter.

Monday night’s ruling came after two days of deliberations and a 10-2 vote to acquit McNamara, 39, of all four charges — second-degree course of sexual conduct against a child, two counts of second-degree criminal sexual act, attempted second-degree rape and endangering the welfare of a child.

“Within an hour of deliberations, that was the count,” defense attorney Robert Berkun said. “At one point, it was 11-1, but then it went back, and nothing changed for the 20 or so hours of discussions.”

McNamara will be back in court Dec. 12 to discuss a retrial.

Earlier Monday, the jury requested that the testimony of the 14-year-old alleged victim be read back to them. The case rests with the teen’s testimony, as there is no eyewitness testimony or physical evidence of the alleged crimes. The girl said last week that McNamara, of Division Street, sexually abused her every night or every other night after tucking her in.

McNamara, the owner of Juicy Vapor, allegedly began touching her breasts in 2011, and over the course of a year and a half, the abuse escalated to oral sex and attempted rape, the girl testified.

Berkun has argued that the teen crafted the story out of a desire to meet her biological father. The sexual stories came from adult apps she had on her phone, he said.

During closing arguments, Berkun said a vibrator McNamara allegedly gave the girl was never found, no semen was found on the bedsheets and the girl was not physically harmed. The teen’s 10-year-old half-sister, who shared a room with the victim while some of the alleged abuse took place, testified that she did not hear or see anything inappropriate.

The victim also changed her story on the stand, Berkun said. During direct questioning, she said she was abused almost every night for 18 months, but upon cross examination, said the abuse only happened between 18 and 23 times.

“There is so much reasonable doubt in this case, so many contradictions,” Berkun said Tuesday.

But Assistant District Attorney Robert Zucco, who prosecuted the case, argued that McNamara had time alone in the home after the victim went to police to hide the vibrator. He was also responsible for updating the family’s phones, and could have installed the apps himself.

Zucco also pointed to medical professionals’ testimony, which indicated that the girl could have been abused despite a lack of physical harm or evidence. The girl, who mumbled often during her testimony, was uncomfortable and had a hard time speaking due to the nature of her testimony, not because she was lying, Zucco said.

“Is it easy to talk about the first time you were sexually active?” he asked the jury during closing arguments. “Is it easy for a 14-year-old to talk about?”