ANGOLA — An Angola man pleaded guilty to three Level 3 felony child molesting charges Friday evening in the third day of a jury trial in Steuben Superior Court.
Twelve jurors and two alternates entered deliberations at 2:35 p.m. Friday. They had seven verdict sheets — one for each charge pending against Tylarr James Tagliaferri, 24. They were three Level 1 felonies, one for each of three child victims, three Level 3 felonies and a Level 1 felony alleging child molesting with the threat of deadly force.
A Level 1 felony carries up to 40 years in prison and a Level 3, up to 16 years.
At 5 p.m., a juror’s question reconvened court, with Judge William Fee on the bench. Prosecutor Jeremy Musser, Deputy Prosecutor Travis Musser and public defender Eugene Bosworth were present. Through the question, it came to Fee’s attention that four depositions had mistakenly been provided to the jurors with the evidence for their consideration.
A deposition is a very complete interview conducted by an attorney of a party involved in a legal proceeding.
Selections from the depositions were introduced by the state and defense during the trial and the deposition documents were marked as evidence. However, all of the information in the documents was not ruled admissible, just those selections vetted before the open court.
Jury foreperson Michael Eyster said “most of the depositions have been read by everyone.” They included depositions of the three victims — boys ages 13, 11 and 9.
The boys each were on the stand for about an hour apiece on Thursday, undergoing rigorous questioning. They answered well and credibly considering the time that had elapsed, the traumas they related and their tender ages.
The crimes Tagliaferri admitted to occurred between April 1, 2015 and Aug. 2, 2015, before Tagliaferri turned 21 years old. Tagliaferri forced all three of the boys to provide him with oral sex.
The four Level 1 felonies will be dismissed if Fee accepts the plea agreement at a July 12 sentencing hearing. Tagliaferri will remain free on a $50,000 surety bond.
His guilty plea allowed the court’s error to be waived.
When it came to light, a mistrial seemed likely. Fee said if it had not been for the question asked by the juror, hours may have been wasted and there may have been a less desirable outcome — another trial.
“This was a tough trial,” said Jeremy Musser. If there had not been the guilty plea, he said, “The boys were going right back through this.”
The jury waited in the jury room for two hours while the plea bargain was reached.
Following the plea dialog and the end of court proceedings, Fee called the jury into the courtroom and apologized with feeling.
“You are one of the most dedicated groups that I’ve seen in a trial of this stature,” said Fee. “You had great questions that advanced the issues in the case ... Your service has not, definitely not, been in vain.”
While it was not the ideal or expected outcome of three grueling days in court, Fee said, “in the end there was closure.”