After about a two-hour deliberation yesterday, a jury declared Christopher and Jason Rosengrant not guilty in connection with the October 2003 death of former Penn State student, Salvador Peter Serrano.
Awaiting the verdict, the defendants sat at the defense table while Grace Jimenez, Serrano's mother, and Diane Morgan, the mother of Serrano's fiancee, Brooke Morgan, sat in the second row holding hands.
Following the announcement, audible gasps of relief and dismay filled the courtroom, as Christopher and Jason Rosengrant hugged and thanked their attorneys.
Friends and family of Serrano left the room almost immediately after the verdict was read as the Rosengrant family hugged and cried.
Robert Munley, Christopher Rosengrant's attorney, said that his thoughts were with the Serrano family, but he was pleased with the outcome of the trial.
"I'm thrilled that the Rosengrant brothers have been exonerated," he said, taking out a handkerchief to wipe his face.
Christopher Rosengrant said he needed to be with his family for the night and did not wish to comment on the trial.
Centre County District Attorney Ray Gricar said he was not surprised by the jury's verdict, but felt that the case had to be prosecuted because of the death of Serrano.
"A not guilty verdict is always a possibility," he said. "They obviously had a reasonable doubt about one of the key aspects of the case."
Gricar also said that involuntary manslaughter cases, like the case against the Rosengrants, are difficult to prosecute.
"There is a lot of sympathy for those on trial," he said.
Serrano died Oct. 26, 2003, after an altercation with the Rosengrants outside the All American Rathskeller, 108 S. Pugh St., where they were both employed at the time.
Serrano, Morgan and two friends were walking down Calder Way behind the bar when one friend, Timothy Padalino, stopped outside the Physique Boutique, 135 Calder Way, to urinate.
According to court documents, Rathskeller employees saw Padalino urinating and asked the group to leave, and an argument began. Court documents state that Serrano was pushed to the ground by Christopher Rosengrant and then restrained by Jason Rosengrant.
At some point during the altercation, Serrano began to vomit and choked, becoming unresponsive. He was later pronounced dead at Mount Nittany Medical Center.
In his nearly 40-minute closing arguments, Gricar argued that despite Serrano's .24 blood alcohol content on the night he died, the actions of the Rosengrant brothers during the altercation that lead to Serrano's death were reckless.
"They made terrible mistakes," Gricar said during his argument.
Additionally, Gricar said that the Rosengrants had no authority in the area where they apprehended Serrano and his friends after Rathskeller employees saw Padalino urinating in the parking lot behind the bar.
In his argument, he said Christopher Rosengrant should have been aware of the risks involved in an altercation with an intoxicated person, especially after working for the Rathskeller for about ten years.
"You don't think he knows a drunk when he sees one?" Gricar asked the jury.
In defending their clients' actions, defense attorneys Munley and Karen Muir, countered that both Christopher and Jason Rosengrant's actions had unforeseeable consequences.
Munley and Muir represented the brothers separately during the trial and gave their statements separately.
Muir, who spoke immediately before Gricar for only ten minutes, reminded the jury of Gordon Handte's testimony about Serrano's autopsy, which included a statement that said alcohol was the major contributing factor in Serrano's death.
"Peter Serrano voluntarily consumed beer and shots of vodka," she said.
In her closing statement, Muir showed the jury a shell necklace that Serrano wore the night he died, which had been entered as evidence, and asked the jury to rule in favor of her client, Jason Rosengrant.
"I suggest to you that the chain of events, much like this shell necklace belong to Peter Serrano," she said.