One day after a judge acquitted Catrina Engle on the charge of interfering with a police officer, a six-member jury found her not guilty on the remaining charge of disorderly conduct.
The three-day jury trial came to an end late Wednesday afternoon after 75 minutes of jury deliberation. The trial was an appeal of guilty verdicts rendered on the same charges by Mission City Judge Keith Drill in August.
The disorderly conduct charge rested on Engle’s language and conduct in the Mission post office during an incident in March. Judge Sara Welch had already removed the charge of interfering with a police officer on Tuesday, saying the city had not presented sufficient evidence of “substantial” interference.
After the verdict, Engle said she was delighted that the “truth finally came out.”
The jury was instructed that the language Engle used had to be directed at the postal employees. Engle’s defense attorney pushed hard on the idea that those employees had likely heard Engle arguing with her husband on the cell phone and that the profanities she used were directed at him, not at the employees, who were in a part of the building where they could not see her.
Engle took the stand in her own defense and testified that she did not swear at the postal employees and actually thought they had gone home after her first interaction with them. The incident centered on the fact that the post office had closed when she arrived to mail packages and she had to use the kiosk in the outer lobby.
“He was a bully,” she said of her husband. “(I was) defending myself and got loud (on the phone).” Both Engle and her husband testified to the profanity they used with each other during phone calls while she was attempting to mail packages for him. Their two youngest daughters were “running wild” in the post office at the same time, she said, adding to the noise.
An original complaint by the postal workers that Engle was “throwing rocks” was likely the result of the daughters putting rocks into the mail bin, both sides agreed.
Mission City Attorney David Martin, who prosecuted the case for the city, had contended that the testimony of the postal workers showed that Engle had directed the language at them and that they were afraid of her.
The case “was botched from the very beginning,” defense attorney Joe Dioszeghy said in his closing, citing errors in some of the reports and that fact that a detective was assigned to review the case months after the incident.
Over defense objections, the judge at one point allowed Martin to question Engle’s husband about a previous citation she received for leaving her children in a car unattended. In 2009, she later testified, she went into a Walgreens to get fever medication and left the baby asleep in the locked car with her other daughters aged eight and nine at the time. The question was allowed after Engle’s husband said she had never been in trouble or arrested. “I think the door has been opened,” the judge said.
Engle and her husband, David, were the only witnesses Wednesday morning. David Engle, in a lengthy cross-examination, sparred with Martin, at one point saying, “just let me know how to get through this.” He was later admonished by the judge to “rein in (his) editorial comments.”
It also was revealed that the post office lobby did not have video surveillance despite signs that indicated otherwise. Consequently, no tape existed of Engle’s actions inside the post office.