POCATELLO — A local man’s defense that he was in the bathroom when police accused him of stabbing another man in 2017 was enough to convince a jury he was innocent during his trial Monday at the Bannock County Courthouse.
A jury found Jonathan Adam Oresco, 46, of Pocatello, not guilty of felony aggravated battery Monday in connection to an incident on Aug. 15, 2017 at a mobile home on the 1700 block of West Quinn Road that left then 47-year-old Melvin P. Foster with multiple stab wounds
In addition to an aggravated battery charge, Oresco faced one count of possession of methamphetamine, an enhancement for using a weapon during the commission of a felony crime and another enhancement as a consistent violator because he was previously convicted of two other felonies and was charged with a third.
The jury returned not guilty verdicts on the aggravated battery charge and the enhancement charge for using a weapon during the commission of a felony. The jury found him guilty of the possession of meth charge and the persistent violator enhancement.
Monday marked the fourth day of Oresco’s jury trial, which culminated with Oresco taking the stand in his own defense to say he could not have been the man who stabbed Foster because he was going to the bathroom inside the mobile home when it happened.
Oresco, who had retained Blackfoot attorney Jeremy Brown, was the only defense witness to take the stand Monday.
Most of Oresco’s testimony centered on the events leading up to the stabbing incident on Aug. 15. Oresco said he first arrived to the mobile home on Quinn Road around 10:30 p.m. on Aug. 13 and waited outside until around midnight that night for homeowner Nicole Wagner to arrive at the residence.
Inside the mobile home, Oresco testified that he, Wagner and Foster all used methamphetamine. While Wagner and Oresco drank beer and smoked marijuana they also played a dice game through the late morning hours of Aug. 13 and throughout all of Aug. 14.
Oresco testified that during this time, Foster was using his laptop computer trying to unlock an iPhone. Around 3 a.m. on Aug. 15, Oresco testified that he fell asleep and woke up again around 2:30 p.m.
When Oresco woke up he said that Wagner told him he had to leave the residence. While gathering his belongings, Oresco said he heard a car pull up to the front of the residence at which point he entered a bathroom inside of a bedroom at the rear of the mobile home.
While he was in the restroom, Oresco testified that he heard more than one person enter the mobile home and that he could hear voices through the bathroom wall but could not make out what was being said.
At this juncture of his testimony, Bannock County Deputy Prosecutor Nick Tranmer objected on the grounds that Oresco was attempting to provide an alibi defense, which was something the defense team should have provided to the prosecution during the evidentiary process.
Brown argued that Oresco was not providing an alibi and was actually testifying to the fact that he was in the residence at the time of the stabbing, just not in the same room as Foster, the alleged victim.
Ultimately, the 6th District Judge handling the case, Rick Carnaroli, sided with the defense, overruled the objection and Oresco was allowed to continue testifying.
Oresco testified that he heard a commotion in the living room while he was in the bathroom. Afterward, he said that he heard several people run out of the front of the home, enter a vehicle and drive away. Instead of checking on the commotion in the living room, Oresco said that he “had to clean himself” because he hadn’t used the bathroom in several days.
Upon entering the living room, Oresco said he noticed there was blood all over the room and various items and furniture were in disarray as if a physical altercation had occurred.
Oresco said he grabbed his belongings and exited the front door of the residence, walked out of the mobile home court to West Quinn and was later arrested on the 1900 block of the street.
Police records indicate that Oresco forcibly entered a mobile home on the 1900 block of W. Quinn Road, which was being occupied by the homeowner at the time. Officers safely removed the homeowner, but Oresco barricaded himself in a room.
After police secured the area around the residence and evacuated six adjacent mobile homes, negotiators and the Pocatello police SWAT team arrived on scene.
For about three hours, authorities negotiated with Oresco to surrender peacefully. But after he became uncooperative, the SWAT team entered the home. Oresco was forcibly removed from the mobile home and taken into custody.
Despite both Wagner and Foster testifying last week that Oresco was the individual who stabbed Foster, Oresco said he was not in the same room when it happened. The knife used in the attack was never recovered.
The defense rested its case around 3 p.m. Monday and the prosecution declined to call any rebuttal witnesses to the stand.
The jury returned its verdict around 7:45 p.m. Monday. He’s scheduled for sentencing on August 19.
Oresco faces up to seven years in prison and $15,000 in fines for the felony possession of meth conviction. Judge Carnaroli could also increase Oresco’s sentence anywhere from an additional five years in prison up to life for the persistent violator enhancement conviction.