A Ramsey County jury on Friday convicted Diamond Reynolds of a misdemeanor for assaulting a woman last year, but cleared her on more serious charges.
Reynolds was acquitted of felony second-degree and third-degree assault. She was convicted of misdemeanor fifth-degree assault, a count that was added at the end of her weeklong trial in Ramsey County District Court.
Reynolds, 28, first rose to international attention when she livestreamed the fatal shooting of her boyfriend, Philando Castile, on Facebook. Castile, 32, was fatally shot during a traffic stop on July 6, 2016, by then-St.. Anthony police officer Jeronimo Yanez, who was acquitted in the case.
Authorities said Reynolds was involved in an unrelated attack in St. Paul just months before she was to testify at Yanez's trial.
Reynolds' attorneys, Mike Padden and Karlowba Adams Powell, asked jurors to consider fifth-degree assault as a "lesser included" count.
Padden said Reynolds cried when the verdicts were read. "Obviously, she wanted to be found not guilty," he said. "As her lawyers, we have counseled her that this is a very good result, all things considered."
Introducing a lesser included count is not an uncommon strategy. Padden said it can pay off if jurors believe a defendant is guilty of something, but only have more serious counts before them.
The victim testified at trial that she was punched and then attacked with a "sledgehammer," Padden said. Authorities accused Reynolds of attacking the woman with a hammer.
The verdict could mean that jurors believed the victim was punched, but not attacked with a hammer or sledgehammer, Padden said.
"We were a little bit conflicted, because we felt our client wouldn't be convicted of second- and third-degree assault," he said. "Maybe it was a mistake. Maybe if it wasn't on there, she's found guilty" of the more serious counts.
According to court documents: Reynolds and Chnika Blair, 29, confronted the victim on Feb. 28 in a parking lot in the 1500 block of Jessamine Lane. The women "jumped" the victim, with Reynolds wielding a hammer. The victim's windshield was also damaged.
Dyamond Richardson, 26, pulled up in another vehicle and allegedly sprayed the victim with "bear mace."
The assault stemmed from a previous fight involving Richardson and the victim's friend. Reynolds also had alleged that the friend had damaged Reynolds' car, the complaint said.
Padden argued at trial that cellphone records placed Reynolds south of downtown St. Paul just minutes after the assault, and that she would not have had enough time to travel the distance.
He initially planned to introduce the notion that investigators aggressively investigated Reynolds in an attempt to discredit her testimony in the Yanez case, but at trial was only allowed to bring up the timing of both cases.
Earlier in the week and outside of the jury's presence, Assistant Washington County Attorney Siv Yurichuk, who prosecuted the case to avoid any conflicts of interest, pushed back on the theory.
"I don't think it's at all relevant to the facts of our case at hand," Yurichuk said.
Reynolds will be sentenced on May 30. Padden said he will argue that she be sentenced to probation instead of jail time.
Richardson and Blair both pleaded guilty to one count each of third-degree assault. They were each sentenced to two years of probation.