The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

October 9, 2012

Lower bail? No way

Amount doubled after judge hears inmate phone call

EBENSBURG — A Johns­town man in Cambria County Prison learned the hard way Tuesday that it’s not a good idea to ignore warnings that inmates’ phone conversations are being recorded.

Carl Harris, 20, of the Solomon Homes, on Tuesday asked Judge Norman Krumenacker for a reduction in his $75,000 bond so that he could get out of prison while awaiting trial for alleging injuring his infant son.

Instead of reducing the bond – or even leaving it unchanged – Krumenacker doubled it to $150,000 after hearing a recording of a phone conversation in which Harris allegedly tried to persuade the baby’s mother to change information she had given to the police.

On the telephone recording, Harris could even be heard urging the woman to rob her grandmother so that there would be money to post for his bond.

Krumenacker, in refusing to reduce the bond, said that Harris was a potential danger because of alleged attempts to intimidate a witness.

The woman told police said that she was out of the house for two hours on the day the child was injured, and Harris allegedly wanted her to say that she was home.

When Assistant District Attorney Beth Penna told the judge about the recording and the conversation, Harris denied making such statements. Penna then asked the judge for a recess so that recording could be obtained from her office and played for the court.

Afterward, she said that Johnstown police Officer Julie Wagner, who filed the charges against Harris, had listened to about 40 of Harris’ jailhouse phone calls. About four of them reportedly contained some similar information, Penna said.

Harris is charged with aggravated assault, simple assault and child endangerment in the Aug. 15 incident involving his then-8-week-old son.

Johnstown police Capt. Andrew Frear, in an interview after Harris’ arrest, described the child’s injury as a “fracture of the right fibia caused by pressing on the leg with a hand.”

Police said Harris told them that the child was “crying and crying,” and when he got ready to leave the room in anger he pressed down on the baby’s leg and heard a pop.

Harris said he was not sure he hurt the baby until the next morning, police said in a criminal complaint.

“I didn’t intentionally mean to hurt my baby boy,” Harris said, according to the complaint. “I was angry and had to leave the room”

Penna said that the infant’s broken leg has healed.

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