Martin Found Guilty in Bigler Twp. Burglary, Assault Case

CLEARFIELD – A Duncansville man accused of breaking into a Bigler Township home and assaulting a male was found guilty of all charges Friday in Clearfield County Court.

Andrew James Martin, 34, had been charged by Trooper Matthew Peacock of the Clearfield-based state police with felony counts of burglary and criminal trespass.

Martin had also been charged with three misdemeanor counts of simple assault as well as misdemeanor counts of defiant trespass, criminal mischief and use/possession of drug paraphernalia.

First Assistant District Attorney Ryan Dobo presented the case on behalf of the commonwealth. Martin was represented by defense attorney Matthew Swisher.

Following the verdict, President Judge Fredric Ammerman ordered the Probation Office to conduct a pre-sentencing investigation. Martin will then be scheduled for sentencing per court procedure.

The charges stemmed from an incident that occurred on the morning of May 29 at a McClelland Drive home in Bigler Township, according to trial testimony.

The female victim said around 8:30 a.m., she saw Martin on his knees crying in her front lawn. He had his face buried in the shirt in his hands.

She went outside to see if he was OK, at which point he asked if he could come inside. She replied no and he asked her to “let me talk to him.”

She asked him “who” and also indicated there wasn’t anyone there. He asked again and she stated she thought he needed to leave. She then re-entered her home and locked it.

Once inside, the victim said she heard Martin “rattle” her doorknob. She opened the door and he commented that he didn’t like people in his “space” and she informed him that it was her home.

She said after Martin threatened to kick her door in, she locked her home and contacted state police. She also called her brother who lived nearby because she was afraid.

The victim said her brother arrived five or six minutes later and she saw troopers had Martin on Blackburn Road. Later on, she said troopers informed them that Martin’s wife was coming to get him.

She said Martin “rattled” the doorknob again after the troopers left, her brother answered and warned him that he was trespassing and needed to leave the property.

She said her brother locked both doors and the deadbolt, and asked her to call state police again. She said Martin was kicking her door with her brother leaning against it to try to prevent his entry.

However, the victim said her door flew open and its parts flew off. She said her brother tried to hold Martin back, but Martin got him down and began punching and kicking him.

She testified that she went to the kitchen and got her gun because she was “scared for her life” and “just wanted him out.” She said when Martin saw her, he put his hands up and ran out.

She said her husband’s employee stopped Martin outside and restrained him until troopers returned to the scene. She also saw a knife in her front yard, and it was not far from Martin.

The male victim said that morning he received a call from his sister who was crying and distraught over a male trying to get inside her home.

He went down and saw two troopers speaking with a male at the bottom of her driveway. He said he tried to calm her down and the troopers later came up to speak with them for around 20 minutes.

He said troopers had warned Martin not to return and advised them that his wife was on her way to get him from the Altoona or Duncansville area.

The male victim said Martin returned to his sister’s home after troopers left and he answered the door. When Martin tried to enter, he advised him he was trespassing and he needed to leave.

He said he had to gently push Martin with one hand out of the doorway and told his sister to call state police. At this point, he saw Martin begin to pull his knife out of its sheath.

The victim said he began to draw his pistol, as he backed inside and locked both doors and the deadbolt. He said Martin began kicking the door and so hard he backed away.

He said he pointed his gun at Martin and chambered a round when the door flew open; however, there was a malfunction with its clip. He said Martin struck him and got him down, then began to punch and kick him.

By this point, he said his sister was “hysterical,” went for her gun and that made Martin run from the home. He said another male had him restrained outside and troopers were back within seconds.

During his closing, Swisher argued that it was only burglary if jurors believed Martin entered the victim’s home with the intent to commit the crime of simple assault.

He said the commonwealth presented evidence that showed Martin’s lack of intent. He pointed out that prior to forcing entry, he threw his knife – still in its sheath – out into the grass.

“When you pull out the intent, it’s like a Jenga piece,” Swisher said, adding it causes “the whole tower to fall.” He said the crime that occurred might have been something else, but it wasn’t burglary.

Dobo countered by arguing that Martin was determined to confront somebody inside the victim’s home that day. He said Martin was warned by the homeowner and a state trooper not to return.

“And, what does he do,” Dobo asked? “He leaves and comes back with a knife. What is that supposed to infer other than he had the intent to hurt somebody?”

“He was there and told to leave; state police told him not to go back, which we know he did. The victim’s brother told him that he must leave, he’s trespassing. It doesn’t get any clearer than that.”

He continued by calling into question why Martin began to remove his knife from its sheath, if there wasn’t any intent.

“Why didn’t he just leave? Why didn’t he just say, ‘hey, I’m sorry’ or ‘hey, why can’t I be here,’” Dobo asked. “You don’t get any more violent than kicking somebody’s door in.”

He said Martin got the male victim on the ground and began punching and kicking him about his body. He said the victim suffered from headaches for days and had lumps on his head.

Dobo added that both the male and female victims testified that they were absolutely terrified and feared for their lives. He asked the jury to put themselves in the victims’ place.

“Can you blame them?” he asked. “Both thought Martin could seriously injure or possibly kill them, and it was a very legitimate thought. In fact, [the female victim] was in such fear she went and got her gun.”

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