The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

June 18, 2013

Windber resident faces trial in Richland beating

JOHNSTOWN — A Windber man will stand trial on charges that he beat another man after a night of drinking, then left him along a Richland Township road.

Jeremy James Murphy, 24, was ordered bound over to court following a preliminary hearing Tuesday before District Judge Max Pavlovich of Richland.

Murphy pleaded not guilty through his public defender, Ryan Gleason of Johnstown, to assaulting and robbing 44-year-old Timothy Manganella on March 8.

Manganella left a Windber bar with five others shortly before midnight.

Angela Lynne Geisel, 27, testified that she was driving the group home when an altercation erupted between Manganella and Murphy.

“Everybody was pretty drunk,” she said. ”I stopped the car and told them to get out.”

Murphy and Manganella got out of the vehicle, and a moment later Murphy climbed back in, leaving Manganella behind.

A Richland police officer later found Manganella lying in a snowbank along Berwick Road. He was semiconscious, with a bloody face and broken jaw, Richland police Detective Thomas Keirn said.

Murphy admitted striking Manganella, Keirn said.

“He said ‘I hit him once and he fell down and that’s all I remember,’ ” Keirn testified.

Murphy said he ran and got back into the car, Keirn testified.

Murphy denied taking Manganella’s his wallet, money and cellphone, Keirn said.

Manganella testified that he had been drinking beer and shots of liquor and that he remembered little of that night.

“I don’t remember leaving the bar or anything,” he said.

Manganella said he did not remember Murphy.

Manganella said he spent three weeks at Memorial Medical Center, where he underwent surgery for a broken jaw, suffered from pneumonia and needed a feeding tube. He said he still has trouble eating and drinking.

Gleason called the evidence circumstantial.

“We don’t know exactly what happened,” Gleason said. “We have no direct witness of a fight between the two.”

Assistant District Attorney Tamara Bernstein said circumstantial evidence carries the same weight in the courtroom as direct evidence does.

“The driver of the vehicle told the victim and defendant to get out of the vehicle, and within a minute Mr. Murphy gets back in and the victim never does,” Bernstein said. “He’s discovered by a police officer moments later lying in a snowbank, groaning and bloody.”

Murphy is charged with aggravated assault, simple assault, reckless endangerment, robbery, theft and disorderly conduct.

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