Mallo retrial postponed until May

Francis Brent Mallo
Francis Brent Mallo

REED CITY — The retrial of Francis Brent Mallo, originally scheduled to begin Monday, March 16 in Osceola County’s 49th Circuit Court, has been adjourned and is rescheduled for May.

Mallo, of Loudon, Tenn., formerly of Evart, is charged with three counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct stemming from incidents that allegedly took place in the early 1990s in the Evart area and involved a girl who was 11 and 12 years old at the time.

The first trial for Mallo on the CSC charges ended in a mistrial in December, with jurors unable to come to a unanimous decision after 18 hours of deliberation.

Before the retrial, which is now scheduled for May 26, a motion hearing is scheduled for 9 a.m. on Thursday, March 26, to discuss the possibility of changing venues for the upcoming trial, as well as other motions.

The change of venue motion asks Osceola County 49th Circuit Court Judge Scott Hill-Kennedy to consider moving the trial another county, potentially in the same circuit, which would be Mecosta County.

The motion states the decision to move the trial could be made before or after jury selection has taken place.

Before Mallo’s first trial, a change of venue was requested because of his well-known status in the community from his work at Pineview Home (which is also a location where alleged assaults took place) along with continued media coverage.

Hill-Kennedy denied that motion for a change of venue in August, but noted another motion for a change of venue was not precluded by his decision.

Other motions to be heard at Mallo’s next hearing include requests for additional discovery, a juror questionnaire and special jury instructions.

The motion for the juror questionnaire asks for specific questions to be sent out with jury forms, in the hopes of saving time during voir dire — the process of questioning potential jurors before trial to determine their fitness to serve. The vetting of jurors was a long process in the first trial for Mallo, lasting nearly two days.

Mallo has been released from the Osceola County Jail after posting bond. He was denied a personal recognizance bond at a hearing on Jan. 23. Bail was denied when Mallo was first charged, but it had been set at $300,000 in the first case and $350,000 for a second case involving another victim.