June 29, 2016

Intermittent clouds

Jury acquits 1 in assault trial; still out for another

MEDINA — The jury is still out on the fate of a Hells Angel accused of beating a member of a rival motorcycle gang. On Friday, the same jury acquitted the man’s friend who was accused of helping him.

Justin Seliskar, 31, of 651 Sturbridge Drive, No. 20, Medina, was charged with complicity to commit felonious assault, a second-degree felony. The jury found him not guilty after deliberating about five hours Friday.

“I think (the jury) saw it for what it was: that Justin Seliskar was dragged into this thing — whatever it was — because of his association with the Hells Angels,” defense attorney Dominic Vitantonio said.

Seliskar had been in the Medina County Jail since his Jan. 4 arrest. Common Pleas Judge James L. Kimbler granted him a personal recognizance bond Friday, since he still faces a separate charge of having weapons while under disability, a third-degree felony.

“That’s a separate charge that we’re going to have to address. The serious charge, the violent charge, he has been acquitted on,” Vitantonio said.

The jury in the felonious assault case against Seliskar’s friend, Scott Stage, 46, of Parma, will reconvene Monday.

“I hope it’s good for Scott,” defense attorney David Sheldon said about the jury’s decision to continue deliberations. “They obviously are very conscientious and putting a lot of time and energy into it.”

Testimony presented throughout the trial showed the alleged victim, Steven Keresztesi, met Stage and Seliskar at Rockne’s restaurant in Medina Township on Sept. 3 to seek permission for his motorcycle group, the Coffin Cheaters, to ride in the area.

He testified this week he needed Hells Angels’ permission to do so.

Keresztesi said while talking with Stage, he alluded to a Coffin Cheaters logo that many in his group were wearing on their clothes. He said Stage punched him in the face and then hit him on the head with some kind of object he did not see.

Keresztesi testified Stage told him he would kill him if he ever saw him wearing the logo.

County Assistant Prosecutor Scott Salisbury pointed out during closing arguments that felonious assault applies when someone causes “serious physical harm.” He said Keresztesi was bleeding profusely onto the sidewalk outside the restaurant and was transported by ambulance to Medina Hospital.

Salisbury held a picture of Keresztesi taken at the hospital that showed him bruised and bandaged.

“This photograph from that night is undisputed,” Salisbury said.

But Sheldon countered Keresztesi wasn’t admitted to the emergency room, but instead was taken to the “fast track” area of the hospital where doctors deal with less-severe injuries. Keresztesi received 11 stitches.

Sheldon said if Keresztesi was hit with some kind of hard object like a hammer “it’s going to do a lot more damage.”

He said a hospital employee testified Keresztesi declined a CT scan, but Keresztesi testified the machine wasn’t available the night he was hit.

“Put an end to Mr. Keresztesi’s storytelling. That’s what it is: storytelling,” Sheldon said.

Vitantonio said there was no plan for a beating at Rockne’s. He said Seliskar only stood by as Stage and Keresztesi talked about their separate groups.

He pointed out the two men shook hands before talking.

“If it starts friendly and ends ugly, then there’s something in the middle. There’s no evidence that Justin Seliskar had anything to do with what’s in the middle,” Vitantonio said.

Salisbury said Seliskar arranged the meeting at Rockne’s.

“This was a meeting that was set up, and it was known what was going to happen,” he said.

Contact Maria Kacik Kula at (330) 721-4049 or mkacik@medina-gazette.com.