In the latest twist to an incredibly bizarre saga, charges of malicious wounding and domestic battery against a Leory man accused of allegedly chaining and torturing his wife have been dropped on a motion by a special prosecutor assigned to the case in Jackson Circuit Court.
Peter Lizon was released from custody Monday and left the Jackson County Courthouse in Ripley with his wife, Stephanie, and their new baby.
Special Prosecutor R. Craig Tatterson filed the motion to dismiss the case before Judge Thomas C. Evans III Monday.
In his motion, Tatterson noted that prosecutor Kennad L. Skeen, II, who presented the case against Lizon to a grand jury on June 25, 2013, moved to disqualify himself and the court entered an order disqualifying the Jackson County Prosecuting Attorney's Office due to a conflict of interest.
Lizon was charged in a criminal complaint on July 5, 2012, when James McHugh was Prosecuting Attorney. Skeen took over the office on January 1, 2013, after defeating McHugh in the November 2012 general election.
The grand jury indicted Lizon on three counts of malicious wounding and three counts of domestic battery.
Skeen moved to disqualify his office due to his representation of Peter and Stephanie Lizon in other court matters and the development of a lawyer/client relationship. That order was entered on July 9, 2013. The Supreme Court was still weighing whether the indictment should be invalidated due to Skeen's presentation to the grand jury.
Tatterson also stated that the state lacked sufficient admissible evidence to proceed to trial, citing hearsay.
The only witness at the grand jury presentation was Chief Deputy Herb Faber of the Jackson County Sheriff's Department whose testimony regarded statements regarding physical abuse and torture by Peter Lizon allegedly made by Stephanie Lizon to another client at family crisis center in Parkersburg. Photographs of injuries to Stephanie Lizon taken at the center were also included.
Allegations allegedly made by Lizon included that her husband had chained her up off and on for 10 years, routinely beat her, burnt her with a frying pan and left numerous bruises on her body.
According to Faber's initial report of the case, Stephanie Lizon walked away from her husband's truck in Parkersburg when he went to return a rented roto-tiller attachment on June 18. She hid from him in a nearby zumba exercise facility and sought transportation to the shelter after he left with their infant child in the truck. She entered the shelter under an assumed named, but later was identified by her correct name.
According to Faber's investigation report, Lizon had apparent ligature scars on her wrists and ankles and claimed her husband had kept her chained and padlocked for some 10 years at their Leroy farm. She also had mutilated and swollen feet allegedly from being stomped by her husband and from him dropping an attachment from a farm tractor on one of her feet.
Page 2 of 2 - Lizon allegedly claimed that Peter Lizon called her his "slave" and she was required to bow to him whenever he entered the room. He would then stomp her feet.
Lizon also had what appeared to be burns on her breats and back and bruising on her body. She claimed Peter Lizon had burned her with a hot frying pan. She also claimed her husband had broken her fingers.
Tatterson stated in his motion that the statements allegedly made by Lizon to the co-client at the shelter were "textbook hearsay," and cannot be introduced as evidence at a trial.
In addition at Peter Lizon's preliminary hearing in Jackson County Magistrate Court, Stephanie Lizon recanted, claiming that the frying pan burn on her back was caused by an accidental collision with her husband, that bruises were caused by goats, knee injuries from tripping and feet injuries were due to a farm accident. She claimed her husband did not intentionally injure her, and most were the result of the dangers associated with farming. She presented a notarized affidavit explaining away the injuries and claiming she never made statements that her husband intentionally injured her to anyone at the Parkersburg center or at St. Joseph Hospital where she was treated.
Stephanie Lizon also adamantly denied that any crimes were committed against her by her husband to Tatterson, an assistant prosecutor and the victim's advocate from the special prosecuting attorney's office, and her testimony at a trial would be consistent with what she testified at the preliminary hearing.
Judge Evans granted the motion for dismissal of charges without prejudice, which means the charges could be refilled.
"It feels good to be partly over. It feels good to have this hurdle behind us, but we have a long way to be done with this," Peter Lizon said. "It was an interesting year for us—very hard. We pretty much lost everything we had and then some, but we are ready to rebuild and start our life over, I guess."
Charges of malicious wounding and domestic battery were dismissed Monday in Jackson County, citing a conflict of interest. They were dropped without prejudice, which means they could be filed again, but Lizon's attorney, Michael Hissam, isn't worried.
"According to the prosecutor, if they were to go to trial, the probable result would be a not guilty verdict," said Michael Hissam, Lizon's attorney. "We think that recognizes this case for what we've said it is all along, which is a case based on hearsay, innuendo, and suggestion and a case that needed to be dismissed."
A hearing on Friday will determine of the Lizons can reunite with their two-year-old son, Mojmir, who was earlier removed from their custody and placed with Stephanie Lizon's parents.