Oaks

Daniel Oaks

SMETHPORT — After about seven hours of deliberations, the jury in the case against Daniel Oaks II deadlocked on the most serious charges against him, including homicide by vehicle.

The jury found Oaks, 34, of Bradford, guilty of five counts of recklessly endangering another person.

There was no immediate word Thursday on whether District Attorney Stephanie Vettenburg-Shaffer would retry Oaks on the more serious charges.

Oaks, a former motorcycle racer, was the driver in a one-vehicle crash on Sept. 8, 2018 in Duke Center. He was tried on charges including homicide by vehicle, involuntary manslaughter and aggravated assault by vehicle.

Oaks’ girlfriend, Alyssa Hawk, 28, was killed in the crash, and Oaks, along with three bystanders — Cody and Sam Pearce and Justin McDivitt — suffered serious injuries. Investigators alleged it was the speed of the car, which was estimated at 88 mph, that caused the injuries and damage.

The jury — made up of seven men and five women — deliberated Wednesday from about 3:30 to about 9:30 p.m., and returned Thursday morning to continue. Shortly before noon, the court tip staff presented a note from the jury to President Judge John Pavlock. The note, which the judge read into the record, stated, “We cannot agree on a unanimous (decision) on all the charges,” and indicated they were no further along in their deliberations than they had been the night before.

The judge told the attorneys that he would instruct the jury to complete the verdict slip on the charges where the verdict was unanimous, and to write “deadlocked” next to the charges where no agreement was reached.

Calling the jury back to the courtroom, the judge asked, “If we stay longer, is it unlikely to change?”

“That’s correct sir,” the foreman said.

When the charges and verdicts were read, Oaks stood silently next to his attorneys, Anthony Clarke and Casey Graffius. He wore a black face mask, and showed no outward emotion.

The families of the victims appeared stunned, confused and upset.

Pavlock, who had warned against outbursts at the beginning of the proceeding, said, “The Commonwealth needs to make a decision on whether to retry on the charges they deadlocked on. I will give them more time to make that decision.”

He set a status conference in four weeks for any motions that either side would have for consideration.

The trial in the case began last week, with jury selection held Monday afternoon, all day Tuesday and Wednesday morning.

According to police, on Sept. 8, 2018, a Subaru WRX — a sports car — driven by Oaks left the Y Bar in Duke Center, where Oaks was helping decorate for a fundraising event. The car went off the road near 610 Main St., struck a full-size pickup truck, pushing it into two side-by-side utility vehicles. The truck was pushed into McDivitt and the Pearces, who were standing in the yard, and it struck a porch, destroying it. Hawk was a passenger in Oaks’ car.

Police said alcohol was not a factor in the crash.

The defense argued there was a mechanical issue with the car at the time of the crash.

Court records indicate that Oaks is free, having posted 5% of $100,000 bail.