WALL The burden was on the state to prove former New Jersey Devils player Jim was guilty of simple assault, but on Wednesday at Wall Municipal Court, Judge Joseph decided otherwise.
After 19 days of deliberation and overview of witness testimony concerning an incident that occurred at the Jersey Shore Arena in Wall on Jan. 7, wherewas accused of striking his own high school hockey player with his foot, unveiled his decision in favor of the defendant.
declared that “markedly divergent” witness testimony heard on April 30 in a special session at Wall Municipal Court by nine players and coaches associated with the Pleasant Beach ice hockey program did not prove that acted recklessly, or did knowingly and purposefully cause harm to his player, whose name the Asbury Park Press is not revealing because he is a juvenile.
“The family is very disappointed in the decision,” Edward J., the attorney of the family who raised the complaint against , said. “Having sat through the trial (myself), and having done this work for 32 years, I can safely conclude my belief that there was sufficient evidence to convict … Certainly we respect Judge decision, but I think what he said at the end spoke volumes.”
In conclusion,declared that it was “not this body’s place” to judge whether conduct as a hockey coach was appropriate.
Instead,said he focused the decision on three elements: was the alleged act committed recklessly, and did knowingly and purposefully enact harm upon his player?
With testimonydescribed as “clearly divergent from both groups,” the municipal court judge said he based his decision on witness credibility and that the state proved its case beyond a reasonable doubt.
After reflecting on the matter and sifting through that witness testimony,was able to determine that an incident did occur and that did make contact with his player using his foot, but could not conclude the aforementioned pillars of the case.
Inside the court room,not guilty verdict was met with applause and cheers from supporters of the defendant, while finally broke the stoic facade he had displayed from his initial court appearance on Feb. 4 through Wednesday morning, embracing his wife as well as his attorney, Richard P. , all of whom declined to comment on the decision.
The wave of jubilation also rushed outside of Wall Municipal Court, where those who stood with the 17-year NHL veteran and former Brick Township hockey standout voiced their approval ofverdict.
“He’s always been completely for the kids,” said Maggie Daugherty, whose son is coached by. “He’s a great guy and a great coach.”
Wednesday’s verdict follows investigations by the Wall Township Police Department and the Monmouth County Prosecutors Office, which both failed to result in charges against.
“Finally, with today’s acquittal, the accusation from a civilian has been similarly resolved in Jim’s favor and dismissed,”said via news release. “Jim and his family are thankful for the outpouring of support they received throughout the case from friends and members of the community as a whole. Jim would especially like to thank his wife Lisa and his family.”
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