By Eric Francis, Standard Correspondent
WHITE RIVER JUNCTION — A jury deliberated for a little less than 20 minutes on Wednesday afternoon before returning a not guilty verdict for former Pomfret mail carrier Brian Bowles who had been accused of hitting the Hartford Village postmistress in the head with his mail scanner tool in April of 2012.
Despite an impassioned closing argument by Windsor County State’s Attorney Michael Kainen who asked the jurors to consider why else Postmaster Rosi O’Connell, who is also a resident of North Pomfret, would have been found by a postal patron lying on the floor of the tiny Hartford Village Post Office that day with a head injury, the jurors felt there wasn’t sufficient evidence to support a conviction for simple assault.
“There were a lot of opinions about what happened (when the jurors began to deliberate) but pretty much the state didn’t prove what they needed to prove,” Jury Foreman Allen Olmsted of Brownsville said following the verdict, adding succinctly, “The state didn’t do its job.”
Although O’Connell and friends of hers had protested the initial police investigation into the incident and the decision to only file a misdemeanor charge even though O’Connell said she checked into the hospital two days later because she was still in pain, Hartford police said at the time their investigation did not turn up any evidence of serious workplace violence that day.
The post office is technically a federal facility and federal postal investigators testified during Wednesday’s trial that there had been disputes between O’Connell and Bowles in the past that were brought to the attention of regional supervisors but they also pointedly noted that in the wake of the allegations following the 2012 incident federal authorities chose not to step in and press any charges.
“It’s obviously not that serious, because if it was any more serious then it would have been handled federally,” Hartford Police Office Mark McComas said at the time.
Following the announcement of the not guilty verdict Wednesday afternoon Bowles turned and hugged defense attorney Jordana Levine, collected his things, and quickly left the courthouse.