The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

February 17, 2014

Assault suspects’ cases combined

EBENSBURG — Three Johnstown men who police say used force and threats against a family to gain access to marijuana delivered to the wrong home will face trial together.

Cambria County Judge Norman Krumenacker on Monday approved a petition to consolidate the case of Jason Maines with that of Charles Meyer and  James Schroll and ordered the trial for April.

Maines, 35, Meyer, 33, and Schroll, 38, face more than 30 counts in the Feb. 24, 2013, incident in which police say the marijuana was mistakenly delivered to a private home on Highland Avenue.

The cases have been continued a number of times, primarily at the request of attorneys representing Maines and Schroll, said Patricia Moore of the Cambria County Public Defender’s office. Both defendants are free on bail.

Meyer has been in prison since his arrest nearly a year ago. Moore urged the judge to do what he can to move the case along.

Earlier, the court consolidated the cases of Meyer and Schroll.

Krumenacker set a pretrial conference for March 5 and jury selection for April 3. The trial will begin as soon after that date as the criminal court calendar allows.

Consolidation of the cases was sought by Cambria County Assistant District Attorney Tamara Bernstein, who told the judge that while the incident involved a number of encounters, all were related.

“It’s all part of the same scheme,” she said.

Johnstown police Detective Lawrence Wagner testified that the incident began when a United Parcel Service driver delivered a package to a home on the 700 block of Highland Avenue.

The family was expecting a bed comforter and instead was delivered a 5-gallon plastic bucket wrapped in plastic and duct tape.

When they opened the package they found what was said to be about a pound of marijuana.

A woman in the home was on probation, so there was some hesitation about contacting police, according to testimony at an April preliminary hearing.

Shortly after the delivery was made, police allege that Maines and an unidentified man came to the house and asked for the package.

An adult male identified as William Cawthorne said there was no package.

Later, Maines returned with Meyer, Cawthorne testified in April. He said the two offered money for the package and began making threats.

It was then that Cawthorne and the entire family went to Johnstown police headquarters.

Shortly after they returned to the home,  there was pounding on the back door and Cawthorne saw Meyer and Schroll.

Wagner said the two kicked in the door and Schroll put a revolver in Cawthorne’s face.

Cawthorne was able to grab the gun by the cylinder and during the struggle, which also allegedly involved Meyer, the gun went off.

Cawthorne was struck in the lower leg and knee. The bullet passed through Cawthorne and struck Schroll in the head.

Testimony Monday was that not only were there three involved in the incident, according to victims’ statements, but a security video camera from a neighboring home put Maines in the area when the door was kicked down.

Meyer and Schroll, who was in the courtroom Monday wearing a protective helmet, are each charged with burglary, reckless endangerment, two counts of aggravated assault, criminal trespass, attempted drug possession with intent to deliver and four counts of conspiracy in conjunction with burglary, robbery, assault and drug possession.

Schroll also faces a robbery charge.

Maines is charged with terroristic threats, witness intimidation and three counts each of attempted drug possession and attempted drug possession with intent to deliver.

Schroll is represented by George Bills of Pittsburgh while Maines, at this point, is represented by Steven Townsend, also of Pittsburgh.

Townsend, who was not in the courtroom, earlier requested to be dismissed from the case. Krumenacker denied the request because Townsend had not followed proper procedure.

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

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