The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

April 9, 2013

DA defends handling of case in which officer was injured

David Hurst

SOMERSET — A letter criticizing how the Somerset District Attorney’s Office’s handled a case involving an ATV rider who struck a policeman has been dubbed “misleading” by the county’s district attorney, who indicated prosecutors communicated with the injured officer prior to a March plea hearing.

“The facts in the letter dated March 26, 2013, are simply not true,” District Attorney Lisa Lazzari-Strasiser said last week.

Brett R. Marsh, 35, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of simple assault and recklessly endangering another person in Somerset County court earlier this month, stemming from the

November 2010 incident that left a Paint officer seriously injured.

The case had been tied up in court since.

Teamsters Local Union No. 110 blasted the misdemeanor plea arrangement, saying the union wanted a “tough stance” against attempts to allow Marsh to “plead down” to lesser offenses.

Union attorney Robert A. Eberle wrote that the prosecutor did not contact the officers in advance of to a scheduled trial, instead notifying their office through an email that the case had been resolved.

Lazzari disagreed, calling Eberle’s claims “misleading.” She did not elaborate.

First Assistant District Attorney Carolann Young handled the case, she said.

Young, who did not return messages for comment, is the Somerset office’s “most experienced prosecutor,” she added, “and I trust the decision-making process she engages in. I trust her instincts.”

Eberle said Monday his clients stand by their statements. Their decision to release their story to the public, he added, was to “give them a chance to be heard.”

“It’s all they really wanted from the beginning,” he added.

Marsh is scheduled to be sentenced in the case May 1.

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