Updated at 9:51 a.m.
CLEARFIELD – Harry Eugene Dunlap, 65, of SCI Houtzdale and formerly of Curwensville, has pleaded guilty to attempting to stab another man in a Mahaffey bar in November of last year.
He pleaded guilty to recklessly endangering another person, M2, on Friday morning instead of finishing out his trial and sending it to the jury.
He waived his right to a pre-sentencing investigation and was sentenced by Senior Judge David E. Grine to 226 days (time-served) to 23 months.
“The commonwealth is satisfied with the outcome in this case,” said Assistant District Attorney Warren B. Mikesell II after Dunlap received his sentence.
CLEARFIELD – The case against a Curwensville man accused in an attempted bar stabbing will go to the jury Friday in Clearfield County Court.
Harry Eugene Dunlap, 65, has been charged by Corporal David Kostok of the Punxsutawney-based state police with terroristic threats, M1; simple assault, M2; recklessly endangering another person, M2; and disorderly conduct, M3.
Assistant District Attorney Warren B. Mikesell II is presenting the case on behalf of the commonwealth. Dunlap is being represented by defense attorney Michael Marshall. Senior Judge David E. Grine is presiding over the trial.
The charges against Dunlap stem from when he allegedly pulled out a large hunting knife, threatened to kill a Mahaffey man and attempted to stab him during a bar fight over tools at the Starlite Lounge in Mahaffey on Nov. 19, 2016.
The victim took the witness stand first for the commonwealth. He said that he and his girlfriend went to the bar/restaurant to have dinner, sodas and to play pool.
While they were there, a female began causing problems and bothering them. He said they both told her to leave them alone, and she made the comment that she was going to call her boyfriend.
Next he said Dunlap came in and went over by the female at the bar. The victim approached Dunlap and asked him about tools he let him borrow sometime in recent years, and he said that this angered Dunlap.
“He told me, ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about and I’m going to [expletive] kill you,’” the victim testified. He said that Dunlap pulled out a large hunting knife from a sheath on his right side and attempted to stab him.
According to the victim, he had a pool stick and used it to block the knife. He then ran out the side door to his vehicle, got his handgun, which was still in its holster, and went back inside the bar. His girlfriend was still inside.
When he went back in, he slammed his gun down on the bar. He said he neither removed it from its holster nor pointed it at anyone, and only retrieved it for purposes of protection.
The victim said at the request of bar staff, he and his girlfriend went outside to their vehicle to wait for state police to arrive at the scene. He said he first pulled around the building but later moved to a parking lot across the roadway from the Starlite.
When asked by Mikesell, the victim said he never attempted to strike Dunlap with the pool stick. He also testified that due to a number of health issues, he wouldn’t have been physically able to defend himself against Dunlap.
Under cross-examination, Marshall questioned the victim about when he let Dunlap borrow his tools and why he didn’t take legal action. He said that Dunlap borrowed the tools before going to jail.
At the request of Marshall, the attorneys approached Grine for a sidebar discussion. Grine later instructed the jury to disregard the victim’s jail reference and not to consider it as evidence during their deliberations.
When his testimony resumed, the victim said he didn’t contact police and report his tools as stolen because Dunlap was in jail. Marshall asked him to refrain from bringing up jail, and the victim said he was trying to answer his questions truthfully.
When asked, the victim admitted that there was “bad blood” between him and Dunlap. He said they weren’t on speaking terms and usually just stay away from each other.
Marshall asked why he didn’t stay away from Dunlap on Nov. 19, especially when he knew he had a large knife. The victim asked why Dunlap came in with a knife and implied Dunlap had “bad intentions” from the time he walked into the bar.
The victim said he didn’t do anything to Dunlap other than ask him about his tools. When asked why he didn’t leave, the victim replied by asking why he should have to when Dunlap was the one on state parole.
At this point, Grine asked the victim to stop making references to Dunlap’s previous history with law enforcement and the court system.
During the mid-morning break, Marshall motioned for a mistrial. He said that the victim had made several references to jail and state parole in relation to Dunlap. He didn’t believe the judge’s instructions would erase them from the jurors’ minds.
Mikesell countered with the argument that Marshall was pressing the victim and his questions elicited those responses. Grine subsequently denied Marshall’s motion for a mistrial.
The second commonwealth witness was the victim’s girlfriend. She corroborated much of his testimony and also told jurors that she became hysterical because she thought her boyfriend had been stabbed.
“It made me sick to my stomach. I thought [victim’s name] was going to die,” she testified. “Who walks in with a knife that big and for what?
Under cross-examination, the victim’s girlfriend also made a reference to Dunlap being on state parole. Marshall renewed his motion for a mistrial. It was denied by Grine, and jurors were instructed to disregard the reference.
Jurors also heard from John Edwards, who was bartending at the Starlite on the date of the incident. He was inside the bar area when the victim and Dunlap began arguing and the victim raised a pool stick.
At the time, he said he didn’t realize there was a knife involved. He went over to get in between the two men, and that was when he realized Dunlap had a knife.
Edwards told jurors he asked Dunlap to put the knife on the bar, and he did immediately. He said the victim was outside, came back in sort of waving his handgun and put it up on the bar.
When he told the victim to get the gun out of the bar, the victim said it was for protection. Edwards said it wasn’t necessary as Dunlap wasn’t any longer in possession of the knife.
He said a second knife was taken from a female who came into the bar before Dunlap. He said she’d been consuming alcohol and appeared to be agitated.
When asked by Mikesell, Edwards said he observed the victim “absolutely” making a defensive motion with his pool stick when he first noticed the two men arguing.
Jurors also heard from three other commonwealth witnesses, including a bar patron and two state troopers. The bar patron testified that she had been drinking for some time, and she didn’t observe any disturbance between the victim and Dunlap.
In his testimony, Kostok said he interviewed the victim and his girlfriend at the scene. He said both were visibility shaken and upset, and she cried during her entire interview with him.
On Thursday afternoon, Dunlap took the witness stand in his own defense. He said on the afternoon of Nov. 19, 2016, a female called him and asked for him to come up to the Starlite.
She and a friend had been drinking for a couple of hours, and he was needed to be their “taxi.” After this, he said a buddy called him saying he just shot a bear and asking if he’d be interested in skinning it for some fresh bear meat.
Dunlap said he took his hunting knife with him to pick up the two females, so that he could drop them off and go directly to meet his buddy to help skin the bear.
When he got to the Starlite, he went in and took a seat at the bar by the females and asked what was going on. He said the victim approached him with a pool stick in his hand and mumbled something that he couldn’t understand.
According to Dunlap, he told the victim to get away from him. He also admitted they weren’t on “good terms” and he was concerned about the victim approaching him. He said the bartender got between them, and the victim backed away.
He said one of the females with him put her hand up to signal to the victim to keep his distance. Dunlap said he was worried that the victim was going to attack him with the pool stick.
“I swear to God under oath that I never pulled that knife out. I didn’t swing it at nobody,” Dunlap testified. He said when the victim saw he had the knife on his side, he ran out.
“He made it sound like I went off out of blue over some tools. I’ve never heard of something so ridiculous.”
The trial will resume Friday morning in Courtroom No. 2.