The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

November 4, 2013

Guilty plea withdrawn in shooting

EBENSBURG — Minutes before a Portage man was to be sentenced on charges that he shot another man in what police say was a drug-related incident, he told the judge that he’d changed his mind.

Benjamin Gordon Schoenfeld, 33, of the 900 block of Jefferson Avenue, through his attorney, Thomas Dickey, said he was acting in self-defense when he shot Donald E. Lewis III in December.

“He believes he is innocent and has a defense of self-defense,” Dickey told Cambria County Judge David Tulowitzki on Monday. “He wants to go to trial.”

Schoenfeld was charged late last year with attempted homicide, aggravated assault, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and recklessly endangering another person.

On Sept. 12, he entered a guilty plea in Cambria County court to one count of aggravated assault, a felony of the second degree.

At the time of the shooting, Portage police said they were dispatched to Lewis’ residence in the 600 block of Maken Street.

Portage Chief Ed Miller said at the time that Schoenfeld allegedly pounded on the door and shot Lewis through the door’s glass window.

Lewis received a gunshot wound to an arm and was taken to Memorial Medical Center in Johnstown for a wound that police said did not appear to be life threatening.

Schoenfeld fled the scene and reportedly returned to his home before he turned himself into police without incident, Miller said.

The handgun used in the shooting was later recovered.

Cambria County Assistant District Attorney Beth Bolton Penna told the judge she learned of the request to withdraw the plea 15 minutes before the scheduled sentencing.

She said she had no time to prepare a response to the request and has concerns over availability of witnesses and the victim.

“This case has been dragged out for some time, and I ask no continuances be granted and we go to trial the next term,” she said.

Penna said that if Schoenfeld again changes his mind he will not “get anything this light” as the deal being rejected.

Tulowitzki said he will take the matter up again on Nov. 13.

Kathy Mellott covers the Cambria County courthouse for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow her on Twitter at

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local News
  • WilliamsA ‘I thought I was going to die’

    Hornerstown resident Robert “Bobby” Williams said he endured two hours of surgery, suffered a heart attack and fears he may never again be able to fully use his right arm.

    April 23, 2014 3 Photos

  • JFD traing Firefighters practice river rescues

    Johnstown Fire Department members lift a “victim” out of the rescue basket during training Wednesday along the Stonycreek River flood-control wall

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Home is Where The Tribune-Democrat is Delivered!

    Here are the names of the 10 entrants that were chosen today-April 22, 2014.  If you see your name, call the Circulation Department at 814-532-5000 (#1) or 1-866-307-0905 to verify your information.

    April 22, 2014

  • sewer meeting map Sewer work will tie up traffic

    Brace yourselves.
    This summer’s sewer main replacement project will delay traffic with detours, closed streets and lane restrictions through one of Johnstown’s notoriously snarled neighborhoods.

    April 23, 2014 2 Photos

  • USS Somerset USS Somerset arrives at San Diego homeport

    The USS Somerset is home.
    The amphibious transport dock ship named in honor of the passengers and crew of United Airlines Flight 93 arrived at its new homeport of Naval Base San Diego on Monday.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jablonski, Stephen Charges filed in courthouse bomb threat

    A Johnstown man was charged by Ebensburg Borough police Wednesday with threatening to blow up the Cambria County Courthouse, a call he admitted to Ebensburg police he made Tuesday.

    April 23, 2014 2 Photos

  • Vizza, Peter Vizza voted deputy mayor

    The top vote-getter in last year’s Johnstown City Council election is now also the city’s deputy mayor.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Conemaugh Township rezoning opens business possibilities

    A portion of South Main Street in Davidsville will be rezoned to give greater allowances to the businesses along the road.

    April 23, 2014

  • Sculptor’s work to be raffled off

    The work of a local sculptor will be raffled off during the Art in Bloom show.

    April 23, 2014

  • Katie and Gary Lamer Birthday remembrance bash provides aid to region

    It’s been four years since Johnstown resident Gary Lamer died of complications from pneumonia, but his memory lives on through an annual party that gives back in a big way.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo


Would you like to see the Johnstown Community Corrections Center remain open after its lease runs out on Oct. 11, 2015?

I'm not sure
     View Results
House Ads