EMPORIUM (EC) — It was a matter of firsts during a jury trial held Wednesday at the Cameron County Courthouse for accused child rapist Joseph William Chapman of Emporium. Not the least of which was the result of the proceedings — declared a mistrial by Judge Richard Masson.
It is believed to be the first time such a ruling has occurred in Cameron County, according to District Attorney Paul Malizia and courthouse staff.
The verdict left the prosecution vowing to press its case again against Chapman, who spent five years on the run and had his case featured on the television program “America’s Most Wanted.”
Chapman’s journey to a courtroom in Emporium began after he walked away from the McKean County Jail in Smethport, where he was held on unrelated charges. In the Cameron County case against him — which included charges of deviate involuntary sexual intercourse; endangering the welfare of children; and statutory sexual assault — Chapman, 30, had previously been scheduled to go to trial on the charges this past October when his attorney, public defender James Martin, had a family emergency and was unable to attend. Chapman’s jury selection was scheduled for November, but could not proceed until this month.
Now, the case looks like it will be dragging on further.
On Wednesday, the jury, consisting of six men and six women, was unable to reach a verdict in the case after spending six hours in deliberations, leading to a hung jury.
Malizia said he plans to prosecute the case again, and jury selection will likely be held in March as the jury must be sworn in within 120 days.
The male victim was 4 or 5 years old at the time of the alleged crime, sometime between Nov. 1, 2005, and Jan. 31, 2006. He took the stand as one of three prosecution witnesses, the other two being his mother and investigating officer Cpl. Jason Yoder of the Pennsylvania State Police.
Malizia asserted the victim, now 12 years old, could not have made up the details of the crime. The details given were not something the boy would have been exposed to without living through it himself.
The timeline and some of the details were fuzzy, however. The boy spoke very little at the time of the alleged crimes and did not report them until years later. A complaint filed by Children & Youth Services led to the investigation by state police.
Chapman was represented by Martin. Three witnesses were called by the defense, as well. Chapman himself testified last, with friends and former neighbors Amber Jones and Bobby Bornheimer.
Chapman testified that he and his ex-wife, the boy’s mother, had had an oral agreement that he was not to be alone with the children. The ex-wife disputed that claim. Jones and Bornheimer stated there were frequently other people at the Chapman home, but they were not aware that he was never left alone with them.
The trial began at 9 a.m., with witness testimony lasting approximately an hour and a half. The jury began deliberations around 2 p.m. and did not declare a hung jury until shortly after 8 p.m.
Another notable first occurred at the trial.
As of Jan. 1, alternate jurors are required to remain at the courthouse until all are dismissed after a decision has been reached. This was the first jury trial in the 59th Judicial District, which consists of Cameron and Elk counties.