ST. CHARLES, Mo. - Serghei Comerzan, 23, left the St. Charles courthouse a free man Friday after a jury acquitted him of involuntary manslaughter and felony resisting a lawful stop charges.
Audrain County prosecutors accused Comerzan of fleeing from Highway Patrol Trooper James Bava in Aug. 2015 when he tried to pull him over for speeding. Bava died in a crash while pursing Comerzan.
The jury spent almost 10 hours deliberating behind closed doors. They were sent home Thursday night about 8:45 p.m. and resumed at 8:15 a.m. Friday morning. By 8:45, they had reached a verdict.
Supporters for Bava and Comerzan packed the courtroom in preparation for the verdict to be read. As the judge read the not guilty verdicts, Bava's family began to cry.
Comerzan remained stoic as both not-guilty verdicts were read, but his attorneys Charlie and John James had visible and emotional reactions to the outcome of the case.
This is the second time Comerzan has been tried in the death of Trooper Bava. He faced second-degree murder charges last May, but a jury could not agree on a verdict and it was declared a mistrial.
Comerzan quickly left the courthouse as members of his family and friends stayed behind to pray and congratulate each other.
"I was worried about this verdict, this case," said Comerzan's attorney Charlie James. "The right verdict was reached, I have no qualms about that whatsover."
The Bava family remained behind closed doors with Assistant Audrain County Prosecutor Scott Fox for awhile, and ABC 17 News did not see them leave the courthouse.
"The state of Missouri tried this case the best way they knew how," said Fox. "We still believe in the case and we will keep trying cases like this in the future."
A jury spent the week hearing witness testimony and seeing evidence that the state hoped would prove Comerzan knew his reckless driving would cause the death of Bava. Bava had radioed that he clocked Comerzan's motorcycle at 105 miles an hour on Route FF.
James maintained that Comerzan made a mistake in speeding, but that didn't cost Bava his life.
The Highway Patrol also released a statement from superintendent Colonel Sandra K. Karsten following the verdict.
"This has been a very difficult period of time for James' family, friends and for the Missouri State Highway Patrol. I want to express my thanks to all our employees as well as the law enforcement personnel who have invested countless hours in this investigation, including the Audrain County Prosecuting Attorney's office, the Missouri Office of Prosecution Services, and to every citizen who offered their help and support in any way. I am very grateful. The Patrol will continue to support the Bava family in any way that we can."
Karsten was one of dozens of troopers that filtered in and out of proceedings this week.