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December 16, 2015

Kathryn Knott jury to continue deliberations on Thursday

Bucks County woman faces charges for alleged role in beating of gay couple in Center City last year

Courts Trials
12142015_kathryn_knott2 Source/Twitter

Kathryn Knott

The jury working to reach a verdict in the assault trial of Kathryn Knott needs another day to continue deliberations. 

Deliberations began at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday. But by 4:50 p.m., the eight women and four men had not reached a verdict. Court of Common Pleas Judge Roxanne Covington dismissed them until Thursday morning. 

Knott, 25, of Upper Southampton, is the last of three defendants to face charges in the Center City beatings of Andrew Haught and his partner, Zachary Hesse. Knott faces charges of aggravated assault, simple assault, conspiracy and reckless endangerment.

Midway through the afternoon, the jury returned to the courtroom to review video evidence entered into testimony.

The videos include footage shot by Elizabeth Foley, a friend of Knott who testified for the defense, and security videos showing the defendant and a group of friends walking through Center City. 

The jury also saw a series of still images taken from Foley's video and re-watched video of Haught, recorded by an independent witness, after he was beaten.

The jury requested a review of the police statements given by the victims of the Sept. 11, 2014 beating as well as police statements given by three independent witnesses – Geoff Nagle, Michelle Moore and Rachel Mondesir – and Taylor Peltzer, one of 15 members in Knott's group.

Assistant District Attorney Mike Barry objected to the jury receiving Peltzer's complete statement because only a portion concerning her dental visit was discussed during testimony. Peltzer testified that Haught hit her during the incident, but no other witness said they saw Haught do anything more than brush her arm away. 

Barry, who said he was concerned the jury would rely on police statements instead of court testimony, was overruled and jurors were given Peltzer's statement in full.

The jury convened Wednesday morning to receive instructions from Covington before deliberations began. Defense Attorney Louis Busico and Barry delivered their closing remarks Tuesday afternoon after concluding four days of testimony.

Prosecutors allege Knott hit Hesse and spewed homophobic slurs when her group of 15 people encountered the couple at 16th and Chancellor streets. Hesse sustained minor bruises to his face. Haught was knocked unconscious with broken cheekbones and a fractured upper jaw that needed to be wired shut for eight weeks.

The other defendants — Kevin Harrigan and Philip Williams — pleaded guilty earlier this year to assault and conspiracy charges. They were sentenced to probation and 200 hours of community service at an LGBT center.

Knott took the stand Wednesday, testifying that she never struck anyone or used homophobic slurs. She said she was near the middle of her group when the incident broke out behind her. She said she saw a member of her group on the ground but remained on the periphery.

After Williams hit Haught, Knott said she turned and ran the other way. Four other defense witnesses testified they did not see Knott strike anyone.

The group, which was coming from a dinner party at La Viola, left for Tir Na Nog, an Irish restaurant and bar on 16th Street.

Knott also testified about four tweets posted to her Twitter account prior to the Sept. 11, 2014, incident that the prosecution has argued demonstrate the defendant's history of using homophobic language. One stated: "@krissstenxoxo the ppl we were just dancing with just turned and mafe out with eatch other #gay #ew."

Knott explained to the jury she was offended by the public display of affection, not the sexuality of the couple. She said she included the hashtag "gay" in the tweet to describe the situation. 

The defendant's testimony about the alleged assault differed from that of Haught and Hesse, who said the incident began when Harrigan directed a homophobic slur toward the couple as they walked to get pizza.

Hesse testified that words and pushes were exchanged before several people began throwing punches at him, including Knott. Two independent witnesses also testified that they saw Knott strike Hesse. Haught said he saw Knott swinging at Hesse before he lost his glasses and was beaten by Williams.