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Judge considers several issues after Comerzan mistrial

The judge in the murder trial against Seghei Comerzan took several issues under advisement following a mistrial.

ABC 17 News was there when Judge Ted House declared a mistrial last month after jurors couldn’t come to a unanimous decision. Comerzan, 22, is accused of fleeing from Trooper James Bava in Audrain County nearly two years ago. Bava was attempting to pull over Comerzan for speeding on Route FF when he lost control of his cruiser and crashed.

House took four motions under advisement on Thursday afternoon, meaning he will decide on them later. Defense attorney John James asked House to throw out the charges in a motion for acquittal. James said the state did not present any evidence that Comerzan knew or reasonably should have known that Bava was in pursuit. The state’s case, James said, is largely based on “inferences” the Missouri State Highway Patrol made when recreating the timing and placement of Bava and Comerzan just before the crash.

Audrain County Assistant Prosecutor Scott Fox said there was plenty of evidence to show Comerzan knew he was being pursued. Witnesses said Comerzan looked over his shoulder several times after passing Bava. The two had met after cresting a hill, and Comerzan told investigators he thought he saw the patrol car based on its unique lights.

James also asked House to change some of the special conditions of Comerzan’s bond. Currently, he can only drive to and from work on Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. James said this makes it hard for Comerzan to get work, since he’s not allowed to be on the road on Saturday and Sunday.

In response, Bava’s mother and father gave victim impact statements to oppose a bond condition change. Jim Bava, the victim’s father, brought up ABC 17 News’ reporting in 2015 where Comerzan’s neighbors complained about his driving habits through their Mexico neighborhood. Alyce Bava, the victim’s mother, became emotional in describing the loss of her son.

Fox and James discussed motions to gag defense counsel and reprimand Audrain County prosecutor Jacob Shellabarger in House’s chambers. Neither would comment on what took place after the hearing on those issues.

House also said they would set aside six days for the next trial, if necessary. Each side will provide days on which they are busy for the next 10 months in order to find a set of days that works. The trial, right now, will take place again in St. Charles County.

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