by: Bill Vidonic, TribLIVE Updated:BEAVER, Pa. —
A jury of seven women and five men found Beaver County Sheriff George David not guilty Friday of simple assault, making terroristic threats and witness intimidation after a five-day trial in Beaver County Court.
The charges arose from a tense meeting on April 16, 2012, with online journalist John Paul Vransevich in 2012
The jury got the case just before 4 p.m. The verdict came in about an hour later.
David's behavior during the contentious meeting with Vranesevich was a “show of force,” Senior Deputy Attorney General Laurel Brandstetter said in her closing arguments.
“John Paul Vranesevich's version of events was filled with emotion and drama and wouldn't it be? He was the target,” she said.
Defense attorney Lee Rothman said that Vranesevich made up the claims to drive readers to his website.
“He put bits and pieces together to benefit his website and to take down someone he wasn't happy with,” he said.
Vranesevich testified that the sheriff drew his service revolver and pointed at him during the meeting.
David denied pulling out the gun and threatening Vranesevich, though he admitted that during the incident, he threatened to shoot Beaver County Times writer J.D. Prose and Prothonotary Nancy Werme.
Sheriff's deputy Sgt. Mike Tibolet testified that David drew a .38-caliber Smith & Wesson revolver, but did not aim it at Vranesevich.
On Wednesday, Mercer County Senior Judge Francis J. Fornelli acquitted David on a charge of reckless endangerment in the case.
July 11, 2014 -- Sheriff denies threatening news blogger with gun
July 9, 2014 -- 1 charged dropped in Beaver County sheriff's trial
June 19, 2013 -- Beaver Co. Sheriff accused of making threats appears in court
June 3, 2013 -- Prosecutors allege Beaver County sheriff violated bond
April 30, 2013 -- Beaver County sheriff headed to trial on threat claims
March 25, 2013 -- AG: Beaver Co. sheriff threatened to 'blow reporter's brains out'