Nelson to Stand Trial in Criminal Homicide Case

Joshua J. Nelson (Provided photo)

Joshua J. Nelson (Provided photo)

DUBOIS – A New Millport man accused of running over a DuBois woman in a stolen vehicle will stand trial for criminal homicide.

After a preliminary hearing Friday, District Judge Patrick Ford ruled that all but one of the charges against Joshua Nelson, 31, be sent on to the Court of Common Pleas.

This includes three counts of aggravated assault, three counts of simple assault, burglary, resisting arrest, theft by unlawful taking, receiving stolen property and summaries. The one charge dismissed was criminal attempt/burglary for one of the Brown Street residences.

The charges stem from incidents that occurred on Brown Street in August of 2015. In addition to allegedly striking and killing Betsy Andryka, he also allegedly assaulted two other women in a nearby home and then struggled with police before he was taken into custody.

Testimony in the hearing came from several of the residents of this quiet neighborhood whose lives were disrupted that afternoon.

The victim’s husband testified that he was sitting on his porch when he saw a man run down the street and stop. The man knelt down and looked back before he went across the street and leaned on a tree. Shortly after this, a vehicle came at a high rate of speed, into his yard.

His wife who was mowing in that direction “was gone,” he said. He yelled for her before discovering she was underneath the vehicle.

Next the car door opened and the same man he had seen earlier got out and ran “like crazy” up Blakely Avenue yelling something he couldn’t understand.

Victim 2 testified that she was visiting a friend when she went outside to get a tablet from her car. She saw a man sitting in her friend’s truck.

“I thought he shouldn’t be there,” she said. She asked him what he was doing.

He got out of the truck, his eyes bulging out and blood running down his face. He punched her between her nose and mouth. She fell down and hurt her hip, she testified.

When she got up, she said he punched her in the jaw. He put his arms around her waist and pulled her toward the basement door of her friend’s home.

“I prayed out loud, ‘help me Jehovah’ and he said ‘I’ll help you.” He let go of her when he saw her friend, Victim 3, at the door, and then he “started beating on her.”

Some people across the street noticed and came to help, putting Nelson on the ground.

“He had super human strength,” Victim 2 explained, adding that the police had to tase him three times before getting control of him.

District Attorney William A. Shaw Jr. asked about her injuries. She stated her face was swollen and bruised and her hip was injured. Although she didn’t need medication, she said “a lot of these things didn’t go away immediately.”

Victim 3 testified that when her friend, Victim 2, didn’t return to her home and she saw ambulances going down the street, she suspected something happened to her. She looked out the door to see someone dragging Victim 2 up the driveway. They were both covered in blood, she said.

Victim 3 said he came toward her, opening the door before punching her in the jaw. She explained that she really didn’t remember much of anything else after she hit the floor.

She suffered pain and her face was “all different colors” of black and blue after the assault, she said.

During cross examination by Nelson’s attorney, Mike Marshall, she described Nelson as having bloody cuts on his face and his eyes were “bugged out.”

Officer Gilbert Barker of the Sandy Township police testified that when he arrived on Brown Street, someone in fire gear pointed him to Victim 3’s house. There he saw a man and woman trying to subdue a man who was in a “highly agitated state.”

Barker said he tried to talk with the man to diffuse the situation, but he just became irate. When other officers arrived on the scene, Nelson was still fighting and flailing around. Officer Josh Johnston tased him more than once, but Baker was unsure of how many times he did this. Nelson was still wrestling even after being placed in handcuffs.

Nelson asked Barker “did I kill her?” twice and then told him to “kill me” twice.

Sgt. Rodney Fairman of the Sandy Township police testified that when he arrived, the other officers were trying to handcuff Nelson. Once he was secured, it was determined he needed medical attention for a cut on his head. Fairman traveled in the ambulance with him the tenth of a mile to Penn Highlands DuBois Hospital, but “it seemed like 10 miles,” Fairman said.

During the trip, Nelson continued to struggle and scream and swear. Nelson managed to free his legs enough to put them above Fairman’s head, pulling the chain of the leg restraints and his leg around Fairman’s neck in an effort to strangle him.

Once they arrived at the hospital, Nelson fought with staff when they tried to sedate him.

According to the affidavit of probable cause, security at the hospital recognized Nelson as a man who had caused a disturbance there earlier in the day.

In an interview with WJAC TV in September, Shaw stated that tests showed that Nelson was not under the influence at the time of these events.

An accident reconstructionist with the Pennsylvania State Police, Cpl. Kurtis Rummel, testified that his investigation determined that Nelson backed out of the parking area of a nearby home, accelerated the vehicle by pushing the gas pedal down all the way, and drove across the street into the Andryka’s yard where it struck Andryka before hitting a vehicle in their driveway and then a tree. He estimated the speed at the time of the accident as between 30 and 40 miles per hour.

Other testimony came from the vehicle’s owner who explained that he left his keys in the vehicle while he went inside his home for just a few minutes. When he went back outside, he saw it was gone and was now across the street.

Dr. Angelo Illuzzi testified that he saw a man acting oddly in his fenced in back yard. A few minutes later, a contractor saw this same man smashing rocks in Illuzi’s front yard. This was shortly before his neighbor’s car was stolen.

At the time of the incident, Nelson, who is currently in state prison, was on probation for a criminal trespass case from 2014 and a burglary case from 2013. He was also awaiting a preliminary hearing in two, other cases from July of 2015.

When he was taken into custody in the second July of 2015 case, he stated he thought he left a mental hospital too soon and wanted to be taken back to the facility.

For more on his other cases and mental health problems, click here.

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