SCHENECTADY – A Schenectady man was convicted this week on assault and contempt counts in the first jury trial held in Schenectady County since the start of the pandemic, Schenectady County District Attorney’s officials said.
The trial also included allegations of the defendant threatening a witness, leading the judge in the case to order him held for the remainder of the trial, prosecutors said.
Daquan Gardner, 31, was convicted on one count of second-degree assault, aggravated criminal contempt, three counts of second-degree criminal contempt and two counts of failing to register as a sex offender.
The assault conviction came after the jury found he kicked his then girlfriend in the face eight times in an attack caught on surveillance video from a nearby business, prosecutors said. The video also showed him punching her in the face prior to kicking her.
The victim suffered multiple facial fractures as a result, prosecutors said. She has since recovered with no lasting injury.
The attack happened in the area of Jay and Union streets early in the morning of Nov. 7, 2019.
Gardner faces up to 5 to 7 years in state prison on the assault conviction and up to 1 to 3 years on each of the failure to register convictions. The sentences could be run consecutive. He is to be sentenced in January.
Gardner had been free pending trial and mid-proceedings, prosecutors learned Gardner had encountered a witness outside court and made a threat, prosecutor Maria Apruzzese said. Prosecutors then learned Gardner had phoned the witness in the lead up to the trial and made another threat.
The allegations led Judge Kathleen Hogan to order Gardner held pending the outcome of the case and sentencing.
The trial itself began Oct. 30 with jury selection and ended Monday with the verdict. The court made special arrangements to keep the everyone safe, but also allow for public access to the proceedings, Appruzzese said.
Potential jurors who had concerns about COVID or regular issues were removed from the pool early. The actual selection process lasted a day and a half, not an unusual time frame for trials in normal times.
During the trial itself, no spectators were allowed in the courtroom to allow the jury to properly spread out using the entire gallery and jury box, Appruzzese said. To keep the proceedings open to the public, a video feed from inside the courtroom was fed elsewhere in the building for people to watch. Attorneys and the defendant wore clear face masks, witnesses wore face shields.
For deliberations, the jury was given another courtroom in the building to work in and also allow proper distancing, Appruzzese said.
“We are pleased that this trial was able to take place during this difficult time and hope that we can continue to conduct criminal jury trials,” Schenectady County District Attorney Robert Carney said in a statement. “Judge Hogan did an admirable job in insuring the safety of all, including a witness who was threatened by the defendant during the trial.”
Apruzzese prosecuted with Tracey Brunecz. Gardner was represented by attorney Michael Mansion.