Area man found not guilty in assault trial

WELLSBURG – A Colliers man on Friday was found not guilty by a Brooke County jury on several charges related to an April 8, 2012, incident involving an altercation involving several people.

The jury found Mark Galiano, 39, of Colliers, not guilty of burglary, two counts each of malicious assault and committing assault during a felony and conspiring to commit the crimes. The charges were filed by the Brooke County Sheriff’s Department.

The verdict came following two and a half days of testimony, much of it conflicting, from two men involved in the altercation; Galiano; his wife, Michelle, 35, of Colliers; and their friend, Earl O. Gorby, 44, of Avella.

Michelle Galiano and Gorby also have been charged in connection with the incident. Their cases are pending in circuit court.

Alex Risovich, Mark Galiano’s attorney, also represents Michelle and said the jury’s decision will be reviewed as he moves forward with her case.

Mark Galiano testified he stopped at the Wellsburg home of a relative of his, to confront him about rumors Galiano’s estranged adult daughter was involved sexually with him and that he was permitting her to use marijuana in his home.

Galiano said he didn’t come to the home to harm the man but a physical altercation ensued, with his relative and a teen there knocking him to the ground and striking him repeatedly.

Risovich presented to the jury photos showing injuries sustained by the Galianos.

The jury heard also from Galiano’s relative and the teen, who said it was Galiano who struck them, aided later by Michelle Galiano and Gorby.

Michelle Galiano and Gorby testified they remained in Mark’s car until they heard him screaming and attempted only to intervene when the fight went outside.

In his closing argument, Brooke County Prosecutor Joseph Barki III said injuries sustained by Galiano’s relative, including a fractured skull and bleeding on the brain, support his statements that Galiano struck him.

A doctor and neuropsychologist, both staff at Allegheny General Hospital Hospital, testified he was treated and evaluated there for the head injuries.

According to police reports, the teen was treated at Weirton Medical Center and released.

Galiano’s daughter testified there was no truth to the rumors her parents heard.

Barki said regardless of Galiano’s motivation, he committed burglary by entering the man’s home without his consent.

Galiano testified he entered through an unlocked door as he had done in the past.

Barki said the severity of the man’s injuries indicated repeated blows by Mark Galiano, but Galiano testified the man fell and struck his head on the concrete floor.

In his closing argument, Risovich asked if the three planned to beat the man, why Galiano would enter the house alone, as his relative and the teen testified.

Galiano said he was driving his wife and Gorby from Gorby’s home in Avella to a Wellsburg store when he decided to stop at the victim’s house.

“I wanted to ask him about the rumors. I wanted to know if it was true and ask him why are you doing this,” he said.

Michelle Galiano and Gorby testified there was little or no discussion of this decision before they arrived there.

Risovich questioned why a table leg said to have been used to beat the victim wasn’t analyzed or presented as evidence.

Barki said the leg was misplaced by a former sheriff’s deputy investigating the crime but it wouldn’t have had a major impact on the testimony.

He asked if Galiano’s account is true, why he didn’t call the police. He noted it was a friend of Galiano’s relative who called the police when she arrived soon after.

Galiano said he didn’t want to get his relative, who also had been a close friend, in trouble.

Following the verdict, Barki said the man and teen involved were disapppointed by the verdict. But he said, for himself, “The jury has spoken so we stand by that.”

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