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Former Mets player Wally Backman acquitted of both charges in domestic case

Wally Backman was acquitted of two charges he faced stemming from a domestic incident in Riverhead Aug. 30.

Mr. Backman, 60, the manager of the Long Island Ducks and a former New York Mets second baseman, was found not guilty of second-degree harassment and fourth-degree criminal mischief. Riverhead Town Justice Lori Hulse announced the verdict Friday afternoon and she did not elaborate on her decision.

The case was a bench trial, meaning there was no jury.

“I said from day one Aug. 30 that I never touched her, never laid a hand on her,” Mr. Backman said outside court. “I’m happy for the team that I had to help me. Justice was served. I just hope it doesn’t happen to anyone else like that and I especially want to thank the Ducks and my family for sticking by me.”

Mr. Backman, of Deer Park, was Amanda Byrnes’ boyfriend for about two months when the alleged incident occurred. He was arrested after he allegedly pushed Ms. Byrnes against a wall in her house and proceeded to grab and twist her left hand, causing pain and a laceration that required medical attention, according to the criminal complaint she filed against him. Mr. Backman claimed she stole his cell phone.

Ms. Byrnes testified Thursday and claimed Mr. Backman repositioned her pacemaker when he pushed her against the wall, and that she could have died. She said he tried to take her cell phone to prevent her from calling police by twisting her arm, resulting in a laceration. Ms. Byrnes said Mr. Backman was drunk and driving her car, and that he suspected her of having an affair with a Long Island Ducks player.

Throughout the four-day trial, Mr. Backman’s attorneys, William Keahon and Stephen Civardi, highlighted the fact that Ms. Byrnes had called the police on nine different boyfriends, and had called police to her Riverhead home 70 times since 2011. 

Ms. Byrnes questioned why she was being interrogated on the witness stand.

“I’m the victim,” she said. 

Ms. Byrnes also has a civil lawsuit filed against Mr. Backman resulting from the same incident and John Ray, her attorney on that case, was present for the criminal trial.

“It’s a defeat for victims of abuse and a defeat for married families in America,” Mr. Ray said of the ruling, pointing out that Mr. Backman is married and was living with Ms. Byrnes.

“Amanda’s background or history should never have been put on trial,” he said.

The civil case will proceed, he said.

Mr. Ray said he spoke to Ms. Byrnes after the ruling.

“Amanda is very unhappy with having to testify and having her character exposed as it was, so she’s quite sick and upset, but she’s determined,” he said.