After about seven hours of deliberation yesterday, the jury called it a day with a one-count conviction and mistrial on the rest of the charges against Ronald L. Slicker Sr. in a child rape case.
Closing arguments by Slicker’s defense attorney Michael Bonner and assistant district attorney Jonathan Miller followed testimony by Slicker himself, who took the witness stand in the morning.
District Attorney Joshua Lamancusa explained after the proceeding that Slicker’s sentencing of the one count — corruption of minors, for his having bought the teen victim an adult toy — would be suspended, pending a new trial on the rest of the charges against him as a result of a hung jury.
Slicker, 60, formerly of New Castle who was living in Florida at the time of his arrest, was returned to jail last night and will remain there on bond until his new trial, which must be held within six months, Lamancusa said.
Slicker is accused of having had various types of sexual activity with the girl when she was 5 and 6 years old. She is now 17. His charges to be retried are six counts each of rape of a child and statutory sexual assault, six counts of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse with a child and two counts of indecent assault of a person younger than 13 years old.
His trial started with jury selection Monday and concluded at 8:15 p.m. yesterday.
The crux of Slicker’s morning testimony focused on a taped phone conversation he had with the victim that was arranged by the district attorney’s office. He testified that he didn’t recall a lot of the conversation, the nature of which included the toy he bought the girl, and an explanation to her of how to perform oral sex.
He said he was not proud of the conversation and, in hindsight, he wouldn’t have had the conversation with her.
He denied all of the charges against him.
Also at issue in questioning were the dates he gave of when he was living in New Castle and in Florida, which contradicted those of the district attorney’s office. His attorney presented utility bills of when he presumably was living at a house on the city’s East Side.
When asked under cross-examination by Miller why he bought the teen the adult toy, Slicker said the girl talked to him the day of her cross-country meet when he gave it to her, and she told him she wanted a back massager.
In closing arguments, Bonner opened, “It’s really difficult to go through life without making any mistakes.”
He said Slicker acknowledged he made mistakes.
“You and I may not agree with the nature of the context of the phone call ... but you’re not here today to pass judgment on this as (guilt).
“Mr. Slicker is subject to very serious charges, very serious charges that require serious evidence,” Bonner said.
“The commonwealth has put together a series of short stories or a puzzle ... and they want you to put these scenes together, kind of like a movie,” he continued. “If a piece is missing, you can’t find him guilty of the charges before you. There are, in fact, missing scenes from the movie.”
He questioned why 10 years went by when “we heard nothing, not one complaint, not one report, not from a doctor, teacher, nurse, neighbor, parent or friend,” Bonner said. “Somehow, someone would have said something. There would be a red flag.”
“Delayed disclosure? I think not,” Bonner resolved.
“Time matters. The times didn’t fit,” he said, adding, “this phone call was the elephant in the room. It’s disgusting, it’s repulsive, but it happened.” He contends there were attempts to trick Slicker and to get an admission, but “it didn’t work.”
Miller countered that Slicker’s testimony didn’t add up. He pointed out that the teen had confided in two close male friends six months before her mother ever found out.
“Mr. Slicker gives the ‘why’ of the case through the phone call, when he told the teen that he was “in a dark, lonely place. What that dark and lonely place is, we don’t know.”
He advised the jury the only number they need to be concerned with was the number 13, the age that she was under, by law, when the allegations took place.
Miller argued the phone call was “a very important piece of evidence,” because he opened up to her on the phone when she started talking about subjects of a sexual nature.
Miller showed the jury a partial picture of the Mona Lisa that covered up part of her but allowed them to still determine that was the Mona Lisa painting. Likewise, the evidence shows the picture of what happened that allows them to make a conclusion, he said.
The jury was retired around 1:15 p.m. The courthouse closed at 4 p.m., but family and friends of the defendant and of the victim waited inside, anxiously awaiting a decision.
The jurors ate lunch and deliberated until 7:15 p.m., when Judge Dominick Motto called them back into the courtroom to see if there was any possible way they could reach a verdict. The floor man said no, but Motto encouraged the group to go back into deliberations for another hour..
At 8:05 p.m., they returned to the courtroom without any progress, but informed the court they had reached a verdict on the one count — count of corruption of minors — and they were dismissed.