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February 21, 2014

Aggravated assault charges against inmate tossed

HOLLIDAYSBURG — A Blair County judge has dismissed three aggravated assault charges against a death row inmate accused of sucker-punching his Cambria County attorney in court last spring.

Judge Jolene Kopriva ruled Wednesday in the May 13 incident involving 46-year-old inmate Andre Staton, according to the (Altoona) Mirror report.

She cited a state Supreme Court ruling that even a punch to the head must cause bodily injury or be delivered with that intent for prosecutors to charge aggravated assault.

Court-appointed defense attorney Timothy Burns has sued officials, saying they should have done more to prevent any attack by the handcuffed prisoner.

Staton is appealing his conviction in the 2004 stabbing death of his girlfriend. He was reportedly upset because a judge declined to recuse herself or let him represent himself.

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