Prosecution Rests in TV Reporter Stalking Trial

A Philadelphia prosecutor wrapped up her case yesterday in the trial of John Hart, the man accused of stalking and harassing KYW Reporter Erika von Tiehl after she ended their brief relationship.

The Philly Inquirer writes that the announcement by Assistant District Attorney Lauren Katona was part of a contentious day in which the jury mostly remained behind closed doors while defense lawyer Jack McMahon argued angrily with his client and Common Pleas Court Judge Gwendolyn N. Bright over several evidentiary issues.

The trial resumes Monday with the defense case, after a day off because Katona had a personal commitment.

McMahon told Bright that whether Hart, 39, will testify in his defense "remains to be decided."

The tension between McMahon and Bright erupted around 1 p.m., when Katona said she was ready to close her case because a final witness, Steven Parkinson, the lead detective, was absent because his father had died Wednesday.

Bright asked McMahon about his witnesses, and McMahon replied that he had none immediately available because he had expected the prosecution to last all afternoon.

In testimony Thursday morning, Hart's former state parole officer testified that in November 2011, Parkinson asked him to listen to a recording of a service call between a Verizon Wireless representative and a person purporting to be von Tiehl. The caller asked for von Tiehl's cellphone number to be changed.

Earlier this week, von Tiehl testified that she never requested the change in her cellphone number and identified the voice on the recording as Hart trying to imitate a woman's voice.

Retired parole officer Michael Sander said he told Parkinson he believed the voice on the recording was Hart's.

Sander testified that he was the Havertown man's parole officer from October 2010 until Hart's arrest in the von Tiehl case. According to court records, Hart pleaded guilty in Delaware County in 2006 to simple assault and stalking. He was sentenced to 18 to 48 months in prison followed by five years' probation.

Hart is charged with stalking, harassment, and identity theft in what Katona called a campaign against von Tiehl.