Merritts Waives Hearing, has Bail Reduced

CLEARFIELD – A Clearfield man accused of severely beating another Clearfield man waived his right to a preliminary hearing on Wednesday.

Harry Lee Merritts, 44, is charged with aggravated assault, recklessly endangering another person, two counts of simple assault and related charges.

According to court records police and emergency personnel were dispatched to the Merritts residence around 12:53 a.m. A paramedic noticed that Merritts was highly intoxicated and had blood on his hand and arm. The paramedic asked Merritts what happened, and Merritts reportedly responded he had “knocked a guy out in his kitchen.”

Officers entered the residence and found the alleged victim lying in a pool of blood on the kitchen floor. Officers also noted that there was blood on the kitchen table and wall above where they man was located.

Police questioned Merritts as to what happened. He reported to police that he and the alleged victim were at his kitchen table drinking when a disagreement occurred. That escalated into an argument, and then into a physical confrontation. Merritts told officers that he hit the alleged victim several times, knocking the man unconscious.  

Paramedics had checked the man, who was in and out of consciousness. His injuries were determined to be severe, and the man was taken to Clearfield Hospital, and from there airlifted to Altoona Regional.

Police also spoke with Merritt’s wife, who was sleeping at the time of the incident. She told officers that Merritt’s told her to call 911. She went to the kitchen and asked him what happened, and he reportedly told her he knocked the alleged victim out.

While Merritts waived his right to a preliminary hearing, he did have a bail reduction hearing. His attorney, Chris Pentz, argued that Merritts was not a flight risk, that he had a job and family in the area. Pentz said that they were not against supervised bail, but that they would like unsecured bail.

Anne McDonough, assistant district attorney, argued against unsecured bail. McDonough said that the commonwealth would be okay with supervised bail, but not unsecured bail.

The alleged victim was in the courtroom, and he still appeared to have bruises and lacerations.

“To be frank,” McDonough told the judge, “He looks like hell.”

Magisterial District Judge James Hawkins reduced Merritts’ bail from $50,000 secured to $10,000 secured. He said that if Merritts does post bail, he will be under the stipulations of supervised bail, and is to have no contact with the alleged victim or his immediate family and is to refrain from the use of alcohol or controlled substances, among other stipulations.

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