SIDNEY — It came down to a mute button. A mute button on the computer in the Shelby County Common Pleas Courtroom Tuesday during the trial of Jackson Center Police Chief Joseph Cotterman.
Shelby County Prosecutor Tim Sell was showing the jury a video of an interview Cotterman did with Detective Chris Brown some time in February. Before the playing of the video the prosecution and defense agreed to only show portions of the video to the jury.
Sell was to mute, or pause and skip over, the part of the video they didn’t want the jury to hear. By Sell’s own admission he made a mistake and showed more of the video than he meant to.
“Some of the things in the video could have been prejudicial to the jury,” Sell said in open court. ” I take full responsibility for the mistake.”
The defense, Attorney Jeremy Tomb, made a motion for a mistrial, the prosecution didn’t object, and the judge granted it.
“Things like this happen sometimes,” Judge James Stevenson said to the jury as he dismissed them. “This case will be put on the docket again for another try.”
Cotterman, a 36-year-old Jackson Center resident, was on trial for one count of gross sexual imposition, a felony of the fourth-degree. He is accused of having sexual contact with a 19-year-old female on Jan. 27, 2016.
In court on Monday Sell spoke about the events of the day the alleged incident happened. He gave details about how the victim called Cotterman to help her with some legal matters. It was reported in court Cotterman offered to take her to the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, and then on way back to Jackson Center from Sidney they stopped by Sidney Municipal Court, then at his home. This is where he allegedly invited her inside and forcibly kissed her and put his hands down the front and back of her pants.
Sell explained how Cotterman was called to the victims home two weeks prior because she was contemplating suicide. As Sell questioned the victim on Monday he tried to establish her trust of Cotterman as a police officer, and that being one of the reasons she was with him on the day of the incident.
The defense attempted to discredit the victim by pointing to prior mental health issues she had dealt with, including the incident where she first met Cotterman. Tomb explained how the timeline of events that have been reported would have been hard to happen in the amount of time from when she met up with Cotterman on the day of the incident to the time she called her mother when she arrived back at her home.
There was also discussion about a cell phone Cotterman gave the victim and if that was the reason they stopped at his home. Tomb said when the victim first gave her report to the sheriff’s deputies she didn’t mention the cell phone. She testified she didn’t think of it because she was so shaken up from the incident that had just taken place, and didn’t know why he had given it to her. There was also conflicting reports on what full police uniform meant, what he was wearing during the alleged incident, and a business card given to the victim during the initial suicide incident.
During the trial on Tuesday the sexual assault nurse, and Ohio Bureau of Investigation forensic scientists testified to the evidence they had collected and tested. It was said during court the only conclusive results of Cotterman’s DNA found on the victim’s body was on her neck and ear.
The case will be scheduled for trial again, though nothing has been scheduled at this time. No dates have been scheduled in the rape case against Cotterman either.
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