Judge denies mistrial in deputy's attempted rape trial

Deputy Jason Nebergall.JPG
Judge denies mistrial in deputy's attempted rape trial (WPEC)

A judge denied a defense motion for a mistrial on Wednesday in the trial of a Palm Beach County deputy charged with attempted rape.

Deputy Jason Nebergall is fighting one count of attempted rape and two counts of battery.

The accuser said something in her testimony jurors should not have heard, based on court rulings and agreements about the evidence.

That sent the judge and attorneys scrambling for case law, although testimony continued as the parties researched the issue.

The woman testified for a second day how she says Nebergall attacked her sexually.

On Wednesday, she mostly answered questions under cross-examination by the defense and the exchanges got heated at times.

Defense attorney Michael Salnick asked why she waited a full half day to report the alleged incident.

“He’s a cop,” she said. “Cops always outrule victims. They always believe the cops before us.”

After a series of responses to the woman’s home that night in 2016, Nebergall returned on his own, still in uniform.

The woman said Nebergall forced himself on her.

“I believe he grabbed my hair with his right hand,” she said.

The woman said Nebergall then pulled up her shirt, kissed and touched her, ultimately exposing himself, pushing himself on her backside.

Nebergall told investigators he never touched the woman, but experts testified Nebergall’s DNA was on the woman’s chest. The DNA swab from her rear end, though, was inconclusive.

Still, during one of the exchanges with the defense, the woman said, “And now you guys saying DNA is not on my butt. But it was on my butt.”

The defense immediately asked for a mistrial.

But Judge Cheryl Caracuzzo ruled the woman’s statement did not cause enough harm to the deputy’s case, and was put in context with subsequent expert testimony about the DNA evidence.

However, Nebergall’s attorneys maintain it was the woman who lifted her own shirt and bumped into the deputy, explaining the DNA on her chest.

The trial resumes on Thursday.