The jury in the case of a Delaware County chess teacher accused of inappropriately touching students will resume deliberations Monday after coming to an impasse Friday.
The jury in the Delaware County Common Pleas Court trial of F. Leon Wilson, 62, of 2785 Castlewood Road, Columbus, began deliberating Friday at 10:22 a.m. after hearing closing arguments from Assistant Delaware County Prosecutors Mark Sleeper and Doug Dumolt as well as defense attorney Bradley Koffel for about 90 minutes.
Judge Everett Krueger received a note from the jury at about 3:30 p.m. and, after completing several other hearings in his courtroom, he brought the jury back into the courtroom. Krueger said he learned the jury was at an impasse and, rather than keep them there to continue deliberating, he said he would send them home and bring them back Monday morning to continue deliberating.
The jury is deliberating on whether Wilson is guilty of three counts of gross sexual imposition, which are third-degree felonies. The trial began Tuesday and both sides rested Thursday afternoon. One of the two alleged victims testified and Wilson took the stand to defend himself Thursday. Wilson is accused of touching the girls in a sexual manner in 2015.
During closing arguments, Koffel said Wilson choosing to testify was “a risky move” but said letting Wilson testify and show the jury his chess lessons was important to how improbable it would be for Wilson to touch a student during a lesson.
“There’s nothing more horrible to contemplate than putting an innocent man in a cell,” Koffel said in his closing arguments.
Koffel said the only evidence in the case is the word of a 4-year-old and the word of a 7-year-old, and said their testimony in forensic interviews can be distorted. Koffel cited his expert witness, psychologist Laura Brodie, when he said some children do not encode, store or retrieve memories properly.
Koffel also brought out a large chart that stated the jury must return a not-guilty verdict unless they are entirely sure, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Wilson committed the crimes.
Dumolt spent some of his closing arguments pointing out the inconsistencies in Wilson’s testimony, including statements about never being alone in students, pointing out times in his testimony when he was alone with them.
Dumolt added that Wilson’s testimony was a “calculated move” to garner sympathy with the jury and said — because he was present for all of the previous testimony — he could “carefully tailor” his testimony for the jury.
“It’s not ‘she said, he said,’” Dumolt said during his closing. “It’s what he said and what the evidence shows.”
The parents of the 4-year-old accuser were in the courtroom during closing arguments along with the 7-year-old and her mother.
Deliberations will resume Monday at 8:30 a.m.
The jury is comprised of six men and six women.
Glenn Battishill can be reached 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.