A Brooklyn, N.Y., man Wednesday was found not guilty of aggravated assault and reckless endangerment in Lycoming County Court for the alleged beating of an ex-girlfriend.
Orlando Charriez Jr., 28, formerly of the 1000 block of Park Avenue - who lived at the time with Amber Bruno, 27, and is the father of their son - was guilty only of simple assault, jurors found.
Charriez was arrested by city police on June 1, 2011, a day after allegedly beating Bruno in the 1300 block of Almond Street where Bruno left their then-9-month-old son in the care of a mutual friend Daisy Garcia.
Charriez testified that he had been in a rocky relationship with Bruno and decided to leave after trying to work things out for the benefit of their son.
"I couldn't handle that behavior anymore, so I left," he said.
Charriez said he went to pick up the baby on Almond Street after realizing Bruno may have been physically and mentally unfit to care for the boy.
He told jurors that Bruno admitted to him just days earlier that she was "messed up" from pain pills prescribed to her for oral surgery that she underwent a few days before .
Charriez arrived at Garcia's residence after Bruno and parked his work delivery truck in front of her sedan at an angle, blocking her path. He said he went to her passenger side window to try to talk to her. That's when he saw the baby unbuckled in the car seat, he said.
He said he only entered her car when she tried to get away. Charriez said Bruno put her car in reverse and forward several times while slamming the brakes with the baby in the back.
Charriez admitted to putting Bruno in a headlock after she flailed at him while trying to step on the brakes.
"There were no punches," he said.
He said he did "give her two hard elbows to the face" in an effort to prevent the car from moving.
The second blow to the face came after Bruno reached for her bag which was near Charriez's feet, he said.
"I know she carries a weapon in her purse," he said.
Charriez said he got out of Bruno's car after Garcia tapped him from behind.
"Get out of the car; this is what she wants," Garcia said, according to Charriez.
He said he did not intentionally try to cause bodily injury to Bruno by striking her.
"I was only acting out of fear for my son's situation. He's the most important thing to me," he said.
Melissa Kalaus, assistant district attorney, asked Charriez why he didn't call police or try to take Bruno's keys out of the ignition.
"I kicked myself for that afterwards," he said. "I guess I was distracted."
In closing arguments, Kalaus said Charriez hit Bruno with the purpose to hurt her because he was angry about not being able to take the baby from Garcia's residence. She also said Bruno was not affected by pain medication because she ran out two days before the incident.
"Amber did what she did because she was afraid," Kalaus said.
Charriez, who served 14 months prison time while waiting for Wednesday's trial, is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 9 on simple assault charges related to the incident before Judge Richard A. Gray, who presided over the case.