WHEELING - An Ohio County jury found former Wheeling police officer Matthew Kotson innocent Wednesday of one count of first-degree sexual abuse and failed to reach a verdict on a second, identical count.
Following about two hours of deliberation Tuesday evening and an additional seven hours Wednesday, the jury spokesperson announced the decision around 5:30 p.m. Wednesday. Senior Status Judge Arthur Recht declared a mistrial after the spokesperson reported jurors were unable to reach a verdict on the second count.
Recht informed the defense and prosecution that the mistrial will not be further addressed this term of court. He said he will schedule a new trial following the next session of the Ohio County grand jury in January, most likely during the first week of April. A new jury will be selected for that trial.
"We couldn't be more delighted with the outcome," Kotson's attorney, Robert McCoid, said following the trial. "We've maintained he's not guilty of any of this."
Special Prosecutor David F. Cross declined to comment until the remaining count of sexual abuse has been addressed.
The jury became restless Wednesday afternoon following hours of deliberation, and the courtroom audience could hear the jurors yelling from behind closed doors. Shortly after that, Recht granted their request for a brief recess from the jury room.
"It's been difficult, but I know you gave it a lot of thought," Recht told the jury following the trial. "A couple times we could hear you out here."
Recht removed a man from the courtroom audience Tuesday after he threatened McCoid during the attorney's closing argument. The judge issued an additional warning Wednesday, saying such behavior in the future will result in jail time for the offender.
Kotson took the stand Tuesday and denied allegations he sexually abused a woman twice while at her home on Nov. 24. He admitted he was looking for sex when he arrived that morning, but he said he stopped his advances when she said "no."
Kotson's accuser on Monday testified that the former police officer ignored her denials and sexually abused her while the two were on her couch. Kotson then followed her upstairs and into her bathroom, she said, and sexually abused her again. She testified that Kotson injured her during his non-intercourse abuse in the bathroom, and she said she later found blood on her clothes.
West Virginia State Police Cpl. James Dean on Tuesday refuted the woman's testimony, saying she never reported that alleged injury to him. He added that he examined the woman's clothing and found no trace of blood.
Additionally, a Wheeling Hospital nurse who examined Kotson's accuser hours after the alleged crime testified that the woman showed no sign of being sexually assaulted. The nurse said the woman had bruising and scrapes, but the nurse noted the woman could not identify with certainty what had caused those injuries.
McCoid during his closing argument Tuesday called the medical evidence the "tie-breaker" in a case that otherwise consisted of Kotson's account of what happened Nov. 24 versus that of his accuser.
This was the second of four trials Recht scheduled in the case. Kotson's first trial on one count of second-degree sexual assault was canceled in July after Cross said uncooperative witnesses led to a drastic deterioration of the prosecution's case.
Kotson remains free on $100,000 bond.