Mallo trial goes late into the night

Francis Brent Mallo
Francis Brent Mallo

REED CITY – The jury is still out after more than 12 hours of deliberations Monday in the Francis Brent Mallo case.

As of press time, a verdict had not been rendered by the jury charged with deciding Mallo’s fate in Osceola County’s 49th Circuit Court.

Mallo, of Loudon, Tenn., formerly of Evart, was charged in 2013 with three counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct for allegedly assaulting a young girl who babysat Mallo’s children. The assaults, which happened at multiple locations in Osceola County, occurred in 1991 and 1992 when the girl was 11 and 12 years old.

Mallo’s trial began last week with nearly two full days of jury selection. The rest of the week was filled with testimony, which wrapped up Friday. The jurors were then sent home for the weekend and reported back Monday for closing statements from the defense and prosecution, followed by deliberations.

In the prosecution’s closing argument, Osceola County Prosecutor Tyler Thompson implored jurors to return a guilty verdict based on the evidence presented throughout last week’s trial.

That evidence was almost exclusively the testimony of the victim in this case.

The victim testified on Dec. 10, recounting sexual assaults which occurred at her home, Mallo’s home and Pineview Homes, where Mallo and the victim’s mother were both employed. But during her testimony, the defense was quick to point out various details surrounding the incidents of abuse that the victim could not remember.

“The defense will want you to focus on the details the victim didn’t remember, such as what she was wearing,” Thompson said. “Those are red herrings. What is important is the victim is able to relay the events that happened which fit the elements of the crime.”

The jury also heard from a second victim in a separate case.

The young girl, who was around the same age as the first victim during her alleged abuse, came from Florida to live with the Mallos as a foster family around 2009.

The troubled girl was the “perfect victim,” Thompson said, because Mallo knew about her history of false sexual abuse allegations.

“These girls were victimized by the same defendant more than 18 years apart,” he said. “Out of all the individuals they came into contact with while in Evart, it was the defendant, Brent Mallo, who, using his position of authority, committed these horrible sexual acts. The victims did not know each other.”

Mallo’s attorney, Lisa Kirsch Satawa, drew on her opening statement from last week for her closing statement, repeating once again that the victim’s allegations were unbelievable, incredible and unreliable.

Kirsch Satawa said the prosecutor wanted the jurors to feel sympathy for the alleged victim, but that wasn’t the right focus.

“The focus here is about justice,” she said. “Did (Thompson) prove beyond a reasonable doubt that these horrible crimes were committed? No, he didn’t.”

Kirsch Satawa also again brought up the details she said the victim should remember if the assaults truly happened and referred to the victim’s recollection as a “constructed memory,” made from pulling real and false pieces together.

“There are things that should be remembered if it’s a real memory,” Kirsch Satawa said. “Her memory isn’t real; it’s false. She believes it to be true.”

Mallo was fully cooperative with police and drove voluntarily from Tennessee to Michigan when contacted about the investigation. Although he didn’t testify, he has denied all allegations and maintained his innocence, Kirsch Satawa said.

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.”