GALVESTON — A grand jury’s decision to not indict a Galveston man accused of assaulting a senior citizen in March has led some island residents to cry foul, but police and prosecutors said last week the case was fairly investigated and presented.
Bobby Wasylik, 68, said he was beaten so severely on March 14 he suffered six strokes and a fractured shoulder bone. He said he was sought out and attacked by a man upset about Wasylik parking a golf cart in the street in front of the man’s house, about six days before the alleged beating.
Mike Guarino, the attorney representing the man accused of beating Wasylik, said his client was acting in self-defense when he struck Wasylik. Guarino denied that his client had gone looking for Wasylik.
The man turned himself in April 1 on a charge of aggravated assault causing serious bodily injury, according to police records, but a grand jury later declined to indict him on a lesser assault charge.
Galveston Police Chief Henry Porretto said investigators “will re-examine a few things” and bring the case back to the district attorney’s office.
Galveston County Criminal District Attorney Jack Roady said if new information comes to light, his office could again present the case to a grand jury.
Wasylik, along with a group of friends and neighbors who have rallied to push for charges against the man accused of beating him, wants to see “justice served,” he said.
“How can you beat a senior citizen and put him in the hospital for two weeks and not be charged?” Wasylik asked.
On March 8, Wasylik said he drove a golf cart from his home in the 1500 block of 16th Street to visit a friend’s house in the 1500 block of Avenue M.
He said he parked the golf cart in the street in front of a neighbor’s home.
While Wasylik was at his friend’s house, a neighbor, the wife of Wasylik’s alleged attacker, came over and asked for the golf cart to be moved, Wasylik said.
Guarino said his client was out of town when his wife went next door to ask about the golf cart. The family was moving furniture into the house, and the golf cart was blocking the way, he said.
Guarino said Wasylik was intoxicated and belligerent toward the woman, but moved the golf cart.
Wasylik said when the 42-year-old neighbor returned home later in the week, he began searching for Wasylik.
Guarino said his client had not gone looking for Wasylik, but the man was told that Wasylik had insulted his wife.
Six days after the incident with the golf cart, Wasylik said, he was severely beaten in his backyard.
Wasylik said the man approached him in the backyard. Wasylik said the man began hitting him in the body repeatedly while shouting the words, “Bobby can you see me, Bobby can you hear me,” with two witnesses looking on.
Wasylik’s alleged attacker then rode away on a bicycle.
Guarino said his client saw Wasylik and approached him to ask about the apparent exchange between Wasylik and the man’s wife six days before. When Wasylik lifted a hand as if to strike the man, Guarino said his client acted in self-defense by pushing the 68-year-old Wasylik to the ground and slapping him.
Wasylik was taken by ambulance to the University of Texas Medical Branch, where he said doctors told him he had suffered six strokes and other traumatic injuries to his body.
He spent a week at UTMB and another week at a rehabilitation hospital for speech and physical therapy.
Police responded to the scene of the alleged assault, and a warrant was issued for the arrest of the man accused of beating Wasylik.
He turned himself in on April 1 on a charge of aggravated assault causing serious bodily injury, according to police records.
A grand jury heard testimony from the detective investigating the alleged assault but declined to hear from either Wasylik or the man accused of beating him, Roady said.
The grand jury elected to not hear any other testimony.
After evidence was presented, the grand jury decided to “no bill” the case and declined to charge the man with a lesser assault charge, Roady said.
Dennis Kittler, whose house Wasylik was visiting days before the alleged attack, has called into question how police and prosecutors handled the case.
“Someone has swept this under the rug,” Kittler said.
Kittler and other friends and neighbors of Wasylik were “outraged” by the grand jury choosing not to indict the man and have been pressuring police and the district attorney’s office to press forward with the case, he said.
Both Porretto and Roady defended how the investigation was handled.
Porretto said police conducted a full and thorough investigation into the incident and are continuing to re-examine certain aspects that may see the case brought back to the district attorney’s office.
“My detective investigated that case to the fullest,” Porretto said.
Kittler said charges against the man he said beat Wasylik could bring the community some peace of mind.
Kittler said his friend, a U.S. Army veteran, has struggled with depression and physical pain since the incident in March.
“This guy is no more the Bobby Wasylik I knew,” Kittler said.