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Mistrial declared in Serghei Comerzan case

Jurors couldn’t reach a unanimous verdict on Friday in the Serghei Comerzan case, leading to a mistrial.

Judge Ted House declared the mistrial at 3:15 p.m., after 14 hours of deliberations by the 12 jurors from St. Charles County. The jurors had reported earlier that they were at an “impasse,” and those holding the “minority opinion” of the group wouldn’t budge.

One juror told ABC 17 News he appreciated how civil the jury of eight women and four men were during the long deliberation that spanned two days. He would not say which way the jury leaned on a verdict.

Comerzan, 22, is accused of second degree murder and felony resisting arrest stemming from the death of Missouri State Highway Patrol trooper James Bava. Bava died when he lost control of his patrol cruiser trying to pull over Comerzan for speeding on Highway FF in Audrain County in 2015. Comerzan was going 100 to 105 miles an hour on the stretch of road when he passed Bava, according to the defendant and the victim’s estimations.

Audrain County prosecutor Jacob Shellabarger said his office would continue to try the case to a verdict. Assistant prosecutor Scott Fox and Stephanie Watson of the Missouri Office of Prosecution Services tried the case for the state. Shellabarger expected the trial to happen again later this year, still in St. Charles County.

Defense attorney Charles James did not comment on the outcome of the trial due to the ongoing nature of the case.

Jim Bava, the victim’s father, said his family was ready to go back to the courtroom for the next trial.

“Our family is prepared to see justice done in the name of our son,” Bava told reporters after the judge’s decision. “Our 25-year-old son’s life was taken over the careless, reckless acts of one Serghei Comerzan, who knew what he was doing. And he has to own this decision.”

Comerzan told troopers after the crash that he passed Bava on Highway FF that morning in the opposite direction, but did not see Bava pursuing him. Prosecutors showed evidence that Comerzan would have had time to see Bava with his lights and siren on, but no witnesses claim Comerzan looked behind him to see the trooper.

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