Trial Gets Under Way for Duncansville Man Accused of Burglary, Assault

CLEARFIELD – The trial got under way Thursday in Clearfield County Court for a Duncansville man accused of breaking into a Bigler Township home and assaulting a male.

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

Martin has 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 is presenting the case on behalf of the commonwealth. Martin is being represented by defense attorney Matthew Swisher.

The charges stem 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.

Following the lunch recess, Dobo called his third witness and Swisher objected to him giving testimony. Swisher raised a discovery issue, saying he never received a list of eyewitnesses from the district attorney’s office.

Swisher commented that he “played fair” and decided to let the issue go for the first two witnesses. He said it could be assumed they would testify at trial, as they had in a previous hearing.

He indicated he knew “nothing” about this witness other than “one line from the affidavit of probable cause.” He noted the court previously granted a motion for the commonwealth to provide all discovery.

Dobo countered, arguing the defense was aware the witness existed because his name was in the provided discovery information, not to mention that it was in the affidavit.

Swisher said it’d be a burden on defense attorneys if they had to look up an address for every name in every affidavit. He also said he didn’t know which troopers or how many Dobo planned to call, other than Peacock.

Dobo said Swisher had the names of the troopers involved in this case and if he wanted to talk to any of them, all he had to do was contact the state police.

Ammerman granted Swisher’s objection and precluded the witness from testifying and asked if either wanted him to give any specific instructions to the jury.

He noted the witness was brought into the courtroom and it could be assumed he was seen by jurors who hadn’t all returned to the jury room. Swisher then motioned for a mistrial, which Ammerman denied.

When the trial reconvened, Ammerman advised jurors that due to legal issues, the previously-called witness couldn’t testify. He asked that they completely disregard what had happened.

Next to testify was Trooper John Bacher, one of three troopers who responded to a reported disturbance. He said troopers approached Martin along Blackburn Road and he was erratic and emotional.

He said because Martin didn’t have any warrants and hadn’t committed any crimes, he was advised not to return to the victim’s home and released with his wife en route to pick him up.

Under cross-examination, Bacher provided further explanation of Martin’s emotional state. He said he would go from being angry at troopers and wanting an attorney to crying and acting distraught.

However, he said they managed to calm him down enough that they felt it was OK to release him to wait for his wife. He testified that he was “in better shape” than what they found him in.

Bacher said he was within close proximity when troopers received the second dispatch and arrived on-scene first. He saw the home’s door was wide open and Martin was being restrained by a male.

He said he cuffed Martin and maintained security of him while Peacock completed the rest of his investigation. He said during a search of Martin’s person, he located a marijuana grinder in his short’s pocket.

Based upon his experience as a trooper, Bacher said he was able to detect the odor of marijuana on the grinder. He said he also observed a dagger knife with Martin’s shirt on the ground.

Peacock was the final witness to take the stand for the commonwealth. He said at 8:30 a.m. May 29, the initial call came in as a suspicious male crying in the victim’s front yard.

He said Martin was positively identified by name and date of birth and determined not to have any active warrants. He said he contacted his station to arrange transportation with Martin’s wife.

Peacock said troopers spoke with Martin for a while and he told him not to return to the victim’s home. Then, he went to speak to the female and male victims and to advise them of the situation.

He said Martin was on his cell phone with his wife when he drove by him later. He stopped and advised Martin for a second time that he wasn’t to return, which initially made him angry.

However, Peacock said he eventually thanked him for being there and they shook hands. After this, Peacock drove about 200 yards down Blackburn Road to keep an eye on Martin.

He said when the second dispatch came in, it was for the same address and a female was heard screaming. He said on-scene a male had Martin on the ground and a knife was in a sheath near the home.

Peacock said when he spoke with the male victim, he complained of headaches and he observed blood on his ear. He said he tried to question Martin, but he didn’t respond and just laid there.

Martin opted not to testify on his own behalf. Closing arguments will begin at 9 a.m. Friday in Courtroom No. 1 at the Clearfield County Courthouse. Afterward, Ammerman will instruct members of the jury and send them into their deliberations.

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