BROOKSVILLE — Attorneys for a Spring Hill woman convicted of beating and imprisoning her 17-year-old nephew in a bathroom are calling for a mistrial, contending that foster care officials and the boy's foster parents failed to disclose before the trial a pattern of troublesome and even illegal behavior by the teen.
Among the most serious allegations is that the teen's first foster parent may have committed perjury by not revealing the teen had been accused of engaging in sex acts with a 14-year-old boy.
The parent "knew for a fact that (the teen) had engaged in two serious felony sex crimes and that his behavior problems were far from the 'normal problems; very, very common problems that we have with all the kids' as testified to in deposition," according to one of the motions seeking a mistrial.
The motions asking for a new trial — a total of four — were completed and filed as Tai-Ling Gigliotti prepares to appear in court Wednesday for a second sentencing hearing.
Circuit Judge Jack Springstead postponed Gigliotti's first hearing on June 9 after voicing concerns that officials within the foster care system might have perjured themselves at some point during the case, though he provided no details.
Gigliotti, who was convicted of two charges of aggravated child abuse, faces a minimum of eight years and a maximum of 60 years in prison.
But Gigliotti's attorneys have made a number of explosive claims in their request for a mistrial.
Defense attorneys allege that Gigliotti's nephew performed oral sex on a 14-year-old boy and solicited the child for sex at least one other time; that he was hospitalized for alcohol intoxication in foster care and punished at school for consuming alcohol, and later lied about drinking to hospital personnel and school officials; and that he accessed pornography on the computers of his foster parents and a computer at school.
Two sets of foster parents asked that the teen be removed from their home at least in part because of some of those issues, according to the motions.
Gigliotti's attorneys said none of these things was revealed to them or their client before the trial in early May.
"The defendant respectfully asserts that such facts would likely have had immeasurably powerful impact upon … the ultimate outcome of the trial," one of the motions says.
Defense attorneys also accuse the first foster parent, David Bearden of Brooksville, of "giving false and misleading answers under oath" during his deposition. The motion refers particularly to Bearden's testimony that he never caught Gigliotti's nephew engaging in "sexually inappropriate" acts and that the teen was removed from his home because he wanted to go to a school in another district.
In fact, Gigliotti's attorneys said, Bearden reported the boy's behavior to the Department of Children and Families and later told a DCF case manager that he was "tired of (the teen's) behavior" and "wanted him out."
Reached Monday, Bearden said he didn't know about the accusations in the court filings.
Jimmy Brown, Gigliotti's attorney in Brooksville, and prosecutor Brian Trehy are prohibited from commenting on the case because of a gag order issued by Springstead.
Though it is not known how Springstead might respond to the request for a mistrial on Wednesday, few things have gone according to script since Gigliotti rejected a plea deal of eight years in prison days before her trial started May 3.
Gigliotti, 51, the widow of world-renowned clarinetist Anthony Gigliotti, was accused of beating her nephew and periodically locking him in a bathroom at their Spring Hill home for the better part of 15 months before he escaped in February 2009.
Prosecutors say that Gigliotti beat, bruised, starved and hog-tied the boy on the cold tile floor in the days before he managed to free himself and run to a neighbor's house.
The teen has not been identified because of the nature of the crimes.
Gigliotti's attorneys have maintained that the boy's story was exaggerated and riddled with discrepancies.
During the seven-day trial, defense attorneys tried to paint the teen as a liar and a troubled child who sought to break free of a strict upbringing.
Gigliotti also said that during her final, violent confrontation with the boy on Feb. 9, 2009, he cornered and attacked her in a bedroom, knocking the diminutive woman to the ground and placing his genitals on her chest. She said she fought him off with a wooden stick.
But the jury of six people — five of them mothers — indicated that they believed little of the woman's version of the events, reaching a guilty verdict in little more than three hours.
A month later, Springstead postponed sentencing Gigliotti after expressing frustration that DCF and foster care officials resisted releasing a presentence hearing investigation file. Springstead also indicated that someone in the foster care system might have committed perjury.
It wasn't clear Monday if Springstead was referring to Bearden.
In one of the defense attorneys' motions, they request a new presentence hearing investigation file because of the delays and a number of "material contradictions" between the original file and an amended one.
Later in the motion, Gigliotti's attorneys made clear that they were not implying any misconduct on the part of Trehy, the prosecutor, or the State Attorney's Office.
Contact Joel Anderson at joel firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 754-6120. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jandersontimes.