Mistrial called in Comerzan trial

10 months 3 weeks 4 days ago Friday, May 26 2017 May 26, 2017 Friday, May 26, 2017 2:04:00 PM CDT May 26, 2017 in Continuous News
By: Meg Hilling, KOMU 8 Reporter, Annie Hammock, KOMU 8 Interactive Director and Daniel Perreault, KOMU 8 Digital Producer
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ST. CHARLES - A judge declared a mistrial in the case against Serghei Comerzan Friday afternoon. Jurors were not able to come to a consensus. 

"We are very disappointed in the decision," said Jim Bava, James Bava's father. "We thought there was clear and overwhelming evidence to show that Serghei Comerzan did use highways as his personal race track."

Prosecuting attorney Jacob Shellabarger echoed a similar sentiment in a statement. 

"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 shinning light," prosecuting attorney he said. "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 prove a defendant guilty."

Bava's father says that he believes that the majority opinion was in favor a guilty verdict.

"The juror informant came out and said the overwhelming majority was one way. We believe that was guilty" Bava said. "There was obviously one hold out, or two possibly, but no one will know. But the majority was going one way, we believe that was a guilty verdict."

Earlier in the day, the judge ordered the jurors to continue deliberating after the reported being at an impasse. 

Comerzan was charged with second degree murder in the death of state trooper James Bava, who died when his patrol car crashed while he was pursuing Comerzan at more than 100 miles per hour.

Comerzan was driving his motorcycle along Route FF in Audrain County. Data retrieved from Bava's wrecked squad car shows that he was driving around 140 mph when he crashed.

During closing arguments, the prosecution and the defense went back and forth as they argued whether or not Comerzan was aware that Bava was pursuing him.

The state argues there was at least a 14 second window of time in which Comerzan could have seen Bava behind him, in between two hills along the route. The defense argues that after Comerzan passed Bava, he never felt the need to look behind him.

 [EDITOR'S NOTE: THIS STORY HAS BEEN UPDATED TO INCLUDE A STATEMENT FROM PROSECUTING ATTORNEY JACOB SHELLABARGER AND AN INTERVIEW WITH JIM BAVA, JAMES BAVA'S FATHER.]

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