Mallo trial ends in mistrial

REED CITY  — A unanimous decision could not be reached in the case of Francis Brent Mallo, which resulted in the trial being declared a mistrial on Tuesday. The 12-person jury deliberated for nearly 18 hours throughout two days, but ultimately the vote ended in a deadlock with jurors unable to agree on a verdict. 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 when the victim was 11 and 12 years old. During this time, Mallo was a house parent at Pineview Home for children. Osceola County Prosecutor Tyler Thompson had no comment on the case because of there is another trial involving Mallo pending. Defense attorney Lisa Kirsch Satawa said she is very thankful jurors took time to consider all the evidence before them. "Mr. Mallo continues to maintain his innocence in hopes that justice will prevail and he will be exonerated," Kirsch Satawa said. "As for the trial, it's obvious the evidence at a minimum gave the jury many things to think about and contemplate. We are thankful for their integrity and understanding of the burden of proof, which Mr. Thompson was unable to prove beyond a reasonable doubt." Mallo’s trial began last week with two days of jury selection, followed by three days of testimony. After testimony concluded Friday, the jurors were sent home for the weekend and reported back Monday for closing statements from the defense and prosecution. Once closing statements finished, the jury began deliberations, which lasted 14 hours for the first day. At 1 a.m. Tuesday morning, the jurors were excused and reported back at 9 a.m. Tuesday to resume deliberations. But after only a few hours into discussion on the second day, a note was given to the bailiff stating the jury was deadlocked. Judge Scott Hill-Kennedy then gave the members of the jury deadlock instructions, asking them one last time to consider all they had heard and see if the differences could be resolved. The group re-emerged from the jury room around 12:30 p.m. to state there had been no change and a resolution was impossible. "Nobody has changed or will change their minds," the jury's foreperson announced when Hill-Kennedy asked for a status update. He explained the jury had been in various states of deadlock since deliberations began. Although some people had changed their vote throughout the process, the jury was stuck for a substantial period of time and no more progress could be made. Before declaring the mistrial, Hill-Kennedy said he knew the group had respectfully and intensely deliberated, but they were at an impass. "Your sincerely held beliefs have put your votes in two piles, which means it's not a unanimous consensus, which is necessary for a verdict," he said. After confirming the jurors were deadlocked on all three counts, Hill-Kennedy declared a mistrial. He then asked the foreperson to state the split on each count, which he revealed was two votes for not guilty and 10 for guilty. Once jurors were dismissed, both Kirsch Satawa and Thompson asked Hill-Kennedy if they could have a few moments to talk with any jurors who would be willing to discuss the case. After speaking with the jurors, the two returned to the courtroom and Kirsch Satawa asked the court to recognize Mallo's right to a fair and speedy trial, and dismiss the case with prejudice, along with a separate case involving another victim. Mallo has been in jail since November 2013, Kirsch Satawa said, and even with procedural and excusable delays, the case has far exceeded the 180 days in which a trial should have been held. If the case was not dismissed, she asked bond  — which had previously been denied  — be granted for Mallo. Although Mallo resides in Tennessee now, he would live in Grand Rapids with his daughter if bond was granted. Hill-Kennedy ruled the motion needed a separate more formal hearing, but did agree to grant Mallo bond. Thompson asked for bond to be set at $750,000, while Kirsch Satawa called that excessive and asked for $100,000 bond. Ultimately, Hill-Kennedy set bond at $300,000 in the first case and $350,000 for the second. Kirsch Satawa indicated the Mallo family's resources were limited. As the Herald Review went to press it was unknown if Mallo had posted bond. A hearing date for the motion to dismiss the case has not yet been set. New trial dates have also not yet been scheduled at this time, but Mallo will be re-tried if the motion to dismiss is not granted.

To catch up coverage of this trial, read the following stories:

DAY 1 and 2: Jury selected, opening statements given in Mallo trial

DAY 3: Victim testifies to sexual abuse while babysitting for Mallo

DAY 4: Victim’s mother testifies there were rumors of abuse 

DAY 5: Expert: “Memories aren’t perfect.”

DAY 6: Jury deliberates late into the night in Mallo trial, no verdict yet