The words not guilty read aloud brought a visible sigh of relief for a former Ninnekah school administrator accused of trying to smother his girlfriend with a pillow just over a year ago at the Lindsay residence they shared at the time.
Todd Bunch, 47, went for some big hugs from a supporter moments after the jury announced its verdict Thursday wrapping up a trial that stretched into a fourth day in a Pauls Valley courtroom.
Bunch, a former school superintendent in neighboring Grady County, was quick to leave Garvin County's courthouse after the seven-man, five-woman jury had deliberated for about two hours in the assault and battery by strangulation case.
His defense attorney, Larry Balcerak of Pauls Valley, said afterwards the verdict was naturally a big relief for Bunch as the jury's decision matched his denial from the start that he had attacked and attempted to strangle his live-in girlfriend, Morgan Reed, in the early morning hours of June 14, 2018.
“Obviously he was emotional,” Balcerak told the PV Democrat. “He's been facing this for a long time and his life has been put on hold.
“Mr. Bunch was very thankful the jury sat there and listened to the case and made a decision.
“We wanted to leave it up to the public and let common sense take over. We want to thank the jury.”
Reed had claimed the attack came when an angry Bunch awoke her by jumping on her with force placing a pillow over her face. She said she was able to push him off and escape by running out of the Lindsay house.
Balcerak says the key point in the trial is no evidence presented to jurors supported that claim.
It's been the defense's claim from the beginning that there was no confrontation between Bunch and the woman claiming the attack had happened, he adds.
“I think the jury saw there was a lack of evidence to show there was a strangulation or any kind of assault.”