Jury finds Wilton man guilty of punching neighbor
FARMINGTON - A jury took less than 15 minutes to find a Wilton man guilty of punching his neighbor Thursday, in Franklin County Superior Court.
Dean Martin Jr. 38, of Wilton, was convicted of one count of felony assault for punching neighbor Hutch McPheters in October 2012. According to testimony presented at trial, Martin became angry at McPheters because he was honking his car horn every day to say goodbye to his infant daughter.
Martin eventually invited McPheters to get out of his truck and repeatedly threatened him, Assistant District Attorney James Andrews said during his closing remarks, to which McPheters responded with what Andrews termed as "sarcastic comment." Martin then struck McPheters in the face, resulting in the Wilton Police Department's Officer Timothy Coombs responding to the scene.
"We live in a society of laws," Andrews said. "Sarcasm does not merit a punch in the jaw."
Martin, Andrews noted, had caused the confrontation, repeatedly threatened the victim and then struck him. "This is a case of Mr. Martin acting like a child," Andrews said.
Martin's attorney, Linda Sparks, said that it was a case of two neighbors "that didn't get along very well" and that Martin had been irritated by the honking horn.
"The circumstances are really the question," Sparks told the jury. "Hopefully, you'll see some of it Mr. Martin's way."
The jury was instructed by Justice Michaela Murphy and then began its deliberations, returning in a little less than 15 minutes with an unanimous verdict of guilty.
The assault charge was elevated to a felony due to prior convictions for assault. Martin continues to be held without bail, having previously been out on bail when it was revoked due to new, alleged criminal conduct.
Sentencing has been set for March 22.