A decision was handed down in the trial of the Essex County sheriff’s officer accused of threatening to kill a 22-year-old woman.
The jury ruled that 39-year-old John Warnock was not guilty on three charges; however, the case is not yet resolved because the jury hung on one charge and found Warnock guilty on another charge.
Warnock reportedly picked up the victim at a West Orange bar in 2012. While driving the woman home, Warnock allegedly threatened to kill her.
According to prosecutors, proof of the verbal assault came from another woman who heard Warnock tell the victim, “Take your panties down or I’ll kill you.” The acting assistant prosecutor in the case said that Warnock accidentally made a call on his cell phone during the drive home. Since the phone was in Warnock’s pocket, he did not realize it was turned on.
Prosecutors also said that Warnock called the victim a “batty bitch” while she was inside his truck. The harassment charge stemmed from that alleged comment.
The victim, in fear for her life, reportedly escaped by jumping from the truck while it was still moving in Nutley.
Warnock was eventually arrested and charged with a number of criminal offenses. His case was transferred from Essex County to Hudson County because of his status as an Essex County’s sheriff’s officer.
At the conclusion of the trial in Hudson County Superior Court, Warnock listened to the jury forewoman as she read the verdict.
On the charges of criminal restraint, terroristic threats, and official misconduct, the jury found Warnock not guilty. Meanwhile, the jury hung on the charge of criminal coercion and ruled that Warnock was guilty of the lesser charge of harassment.
Due to the hung jury, Warnock will have to wait until later this year for the case to be resolved as the prosecution decides whether to seek a re-trial on the criminal coercion charge.
For more information about this case, view the NJ.com article entitled “Essex County Sheriff’s Officer Not Guilty of Three Counts; Mixed Verdicts on Other Charges.”