ALBION — A Cromwell man charged with a Level 1 felony charge of child molesting was acquitted after a week-long jury trial,
Brandon Percey, 36, of Cromwell, was found not guilty on all charges, which included two Level 1 felony counts of child molesting and a Level 4 felony charge of incest.
The case was originally filled in January 2019, but was often delayed due to COVID-19 restrictions canceling trials.
Percey was charged in relation to allegations starting in September 2018 and continuing through January 2019.
In January 2019, Noble County Sheriff’s Department Detective Sgt. Joe Hutsell was contacted by a representative of the Noble County Division of Family Services pertaining to a crime reported by a girl under the age of 14.
Hutsell interviewed the alleged victim, who was also interviewed at the Dr. Bill Lewis Center for Children. Percey was brought into the Noble County Sheriff’s Department for questioning and subsequently arrested, according to Hutsell.
The girl reported to police that the alleged crimes began with fondling in September and escalated into sexual intercourse.
The case was originally supposed to head to trial in March 2021 but was delayed to May 2021 and then postponed a third time.
Ahead of the postponed trial in May, a Level 6 felony count of dissemination of harmful material to minors was dismissed, and a Level 4 felony count of child molesting was also dismissed in August, leaving the two Level 1 molesting charges and the Level 4 incest count.
The trial opened Sept. 13 with jury selection and proceedings occurred during the week, which included testimony from Percey in his own defense.
The jury headed into deliberations on Friday morning.
Partway through the day, the jury sent a note to the judge that they were deadlocked in deliberations. The court was prepared to bring the jury back in to the courtroom when the panel requested more time, then shortly after returned a verdict of not guilty on all three counts.
Chief Deputy Prosecutor Jamie Groves prosecuted the case for the state, while Percey was defended by Tipton Law Group attorneys Seth Tipton and Sarah Ober.
Level 1 felonies carry potential penalties of 20-40 years in a prison, while a Level 4 felony has a range of two to 12 years in prison.
Tipton said he and Ober “actively put on a defense” in the case aiming to prove that the allegations had been fabricated.
That included presenting some photographs of the location where the incidents happened to analyze details of the state’s case, thorough cross-examination of the alleged victim and multiple defense witnesses.
“The state really had no direct evidence. It literally came down to her testimony versus the defendant’s,” Tipton said.
Tipton said he spoke with jurors at length after their deliberation to get some insight into their conversations and said the panel started split but throughout the day worked through the case. After a mid-afternoon declaration they were hung, jurors continued to discuss and ultimately arrived at the not guilty verdict shortly after 5 p.m. after about seven and a half hours of deliberation.
Noble County Prosecutor Jim Mowery said these types of sex crime cases are always difficult to try, but that his office plans to continue pursuing cases if there is reason to do so.
“As a community, we encourage our children to come forward and report abuse – especially sexual abuse. The sad reality is that when they do, there is often little or no physical evidence to support their claim. The Percey case was just such a case. When a jury returns a not-guilty verdict, I accept that as the carefully considered opinion of the community I serve. So long as sufficient evidence of guilt exists, we will continue to charge cases such as this one and let juries return verdicts as they see fit,” Mowery said.