A convicted felon who was caught on video last winter breaking his defense attorney’s nose during his sentencing hearing in a previous case has been found not guilty.
Defendant David Chislton, 42, smiled and applauded jurors on Tuesday after being acquitted of felonious assault on his former lawyer-turned-victim Aaron Brockler.
During his trial, Chislton’s new defense lawyer, Jim Jenkins, managed to convince the jury that Brockler’s injuries – two hairline fractures to his nose – did not rise to the level of serious physical harm that would justify a felonious assault conviction.
Not guilty: Convicted felon David Chislton (left) has been acquitted of punching his defense lawyer, Aaron Brockler (right), in the face in court last winter
A deputy’s body camera captured the moment Chislton took a swing at Brockler after being sentenced to 47 years in prison stemming from a previous case
Chislton had his hands cuffed in front of his body during the February 19 sentencing
‘David Chislton doesn’t pack much of a punch,’ Jenkins told the jury panel, as Cleveland.com reported.
On February 19, Chislton, wearing an orange jumpsuit, had just been told by Judge Nancy Margaret Russo that he would spend 47 years in prison after being found guilty of arson and felonious assault for pistol-whipping his girlfriend.
A video from a Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s deputy’s body camera shows the defendant turn and take a swing at Brockler standing to his left. Using both hands he then punches his attorney, knocking him down.
Officials and others in the court then rush to pull Chislton away. The bodycam footage then shows an officer as he holds down the defendant before he is led away.
Another officer can be heard telling him: ‘You calm? You know you messed up, right?’
Brockler, who left the courtroom on a stretcher, joked ‘it was pretty fun’.
In 2017, Chislton held his girlfriend hostage at gunpoint and threatened to kill her. He then set fire to the Miles Landing apartment complex in Warrensville Heights (pictured)
Chislton was arrested after a police stand-off (pictured) and charged with assault and arson
During his testimony this week, the lawyer told the jury he briefly lost consciousness after the sucker-punch.
He also said he is considering filing a lawsuit against the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Department, claiming negligence, for restraining Chislton’s hands in front of him body, instead of behind, which allowed him to take a swing at him.
Chislton also took the stand during the trial, admitting to punching Brockler because he was upset at the lengthy sentence.
Brockler wrote on Facebook on Wednesday that he does not agree with Chislton’s acquittal but respects the jury’s verdict
Chislton claimed that his then-lawyer promised him that he would use his friendship with the judge’s husband to lower his sentence to the minimum of nine years – a claim Brockler denied.
Jenkins appealed to the jury, asking them to send his convicted felon client back to prison with ‘a modicum of justice,’ lamenting that he already had been ‘screwed by the system.’
Had he been convicted in the courtroom attack, Chislton could have faced an additional eight years in prison, on top of the 47-year term he is currently serving.
Brockler, a married father-of-two, on Wednesday took to Facebook to address his attacker’s not-guilty verdict, writing: ‘I disagree with the jury’s verdict, but I respect it. “Felonious” assault cases can be tricky. What’s far less tricky is properly handcuffing repeat violent offenders All of this was avoidable.’
Despite his legal victory this week, Chislton is expected to spend nearly half a century in lockup for his past crimes.
In 2017, he held his girlfriend hostage at gunpoint and threatened to kill her. He then set fire to the Miles Landing apartment complex in Warrensville Heights, which led to a police stand-off.