CHARLESTON -- Conflicting accounts about a struggle between a man and a parole officer led to an acquittal on an aggravated battery charge.
A jury returned a not-guilty verdict in the case against Jason D. Cox, who was accused of kicking a parole officer conducting a compliance check on him at Cox's residence on June 15.
With Cox and the parole officer, Phillip Amerman, providing the only eye-witness accounts of the confrontation, the jury apparently decided there wasn't enough proof for a conviction.
Cox, 43, whose address on record at the time of the incident was 2842 Whitetail Drive, Charleston, had been released from prison a day before the incident, according to records in the case.
Though the jury acquitted him of the charge, Cox remains jailed because of a parole hold. He could still be returned to prison to complete the sentence he received for a DeWitt County conviction for driving with a revoked license.
During the trial, Amerman said Cox became argumentative and then combative during the parole check. He said Cox kicked him at least three times while he was trying to place him in handcuffs.
Cox's account was that he complied with Amerman though he entered Cox's residence unannounced. He said Amerman became aggressive while cuffing him and Cox accidentally kicked him after they fell to the floor.
The charge against Cox alleged that he "knowingly caused" harm to Amerman.
A prison sentence of two to 10 years would have been required had Cox been convicted. Prison time was mandatory and twice the normal maximum sentence was possible because of Cox's criminal record.
The jury deliberated just less than an hour on Thursday before reaching its verdict, ending a three-day trial.
Coles County Assistant State's Attorneys Rob Scales and Daniel Guido prosecuted the case and attorneys Douglas Lawlyes and Sandra Lawlyes represented Cox. Circuit Judge Brien O'Brien presided.
Records show that Cox also served earlier prison sentences for driving while license revoked convictions in Coles, Champaign and Douglas counties, as well as for a Champaign County drug conviction and a Douglas County aggravated battery conviction.