Two Newcastle men acquitted in battery trial involving radio personality

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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A jury in Auburn has found two Newcastle men innocent of battery charges filed after an Interstate 80 altercation with Sacramento sports radio personality Pat Walsh. John Patrick O’Neill, 54, and Cory Taylor O’Neill were charged in August 2010 with one count each of misdemeanor battery in connection with a run-in two months earlier with Walsh at the Applegate exit, east of Auburn. Sam Berns, attorney for Cory O’Neill, said justice was served with a not guilty verdict following a three-day trial. The seven-woman, five-man jury deliberated most of Thursday before coming back with the innocent verdict. “It should not have been charged or gone to trial,” Berns said. “What the jury saw was nothing more than a roadside fight. Once it got to trial they found out what the truth was.” John O’Neill was represented by public defender Heidi Pope while Deputy District Attorney Peggy Pope was prosecutor. Walsh made a statement on the KFBK website shortly after the incident that he had been driving on I-80 and let a big rig pull in front of him. Three men inside a car started yelling and making gestures at that point, Walsh stated. The California Highway Patrol reported an altercation occurred after both vehicles left the freeway at the Applegate exit, about 6 miles east of Auburn. The KFBK website said Walsh suffered a cut to his forehead, a swollen jaw and bruised kidneys. Walsh was sent an e-mail request for a response to the verdict but had not done so by press deadline.