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Parking dispute: Man guilty of misdemeanor in coma-causing punch

May 09, 2012
  • Oscar Fuller leaves the courtroom in New York where he admitted hitting a woman in a parking dispute.
Oscar Fuller leaves the courtroom in New York where he admitted hitting… (Associated Press )

A man on trial in New York for punching a woman into a coma over a parking space has been found guilty of third-degree assault, a misdemeanor that his attorney portrayed as a partial victory because jurors rejected a more serious felony assault charge.

The verdict Tuesday came after Oscar Fuller's second trial. His first ended in November with the jury deadlocked after several days of dramatic testimony; witnesses described the sound of the 25-year-old victim's head smacking to the ground after Fuller threw a powerful punch at her.

To convict Fuller of felony assault, which could have brought a seven-year prison sentence, jurors would have had to believe that Fuller intended to seriously harm the woman, Lana Rosas, who was knocked into a coma in February 2011 and her left brain-damaged. Rosas' mother, Angie Harrison, who sat through both trials, told the New York Post that her daughter still struggles to recover from her injuries.

"It's a slow process," Harrison said, the Post reported. "A slow, steady improvement."

Fuller, 36, denied that he intended to seriously harm Rosas. He said he struck out in self-defense after the two got into an altercation over a parking space on 14th Street in Manhattan's Greenwich Village. Rosas was trying to save the spot for a friend by standing in it and preventing Fuller from backing his car into the spot. Traffic regulations prohibit such "unofficial reserving" of parking spots, although people often do it.

The case highlighted the extremes to which some people will go to find a good parking spot in Manhattan, where building laws that once required new residential buildings to offer some off-street parking have fallen by the wayside over the years to accommodate developers and to account for shifting population densities.

Despite the conviction, Fuller's attorney, Thomas Kenniff, portrayed the outcome as vindication for his client, who faces a maximum year in jail when he's sentenced in June.

"We didn't deny that Oscar threw the punch, we didn't deny that as a result of that punch Ms. Rosas fell back and tragically impacted her head on the concrete," he told reporters after the trial. "What we said since Day One was that Oscar never intended for anything like that to occur or saw that that was going to occur."

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tina.susman@latimes.com

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