06
Oct
10

update on the Monaca High School Football assault incident from last year…

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1 Response to “update on the Monaca High School Football assault incident from last year…”


  1. October 6, 2010 at 3:08 PM

    Oct. 05–BEAVER — Monaca resident Thomas Phillips will have to wait a month to give his side of the story in his trial for allegedly assaulting a referee during a high school football game last year.

    Although it was expected to last only one day, Phillips’ non-jury trial on charges of assaulting a sports official, resisting arrest and public drunkenness dragged into the late afternoon Monday.

    By 4:30 p.m., prosecutor Frank Martocci still had several witnesses to call and it was clear that defense attorney Stephen Colafella would need much more time to question the 10 defense witnesses that waited all day in the hall outside the courtroom.

    After conferring with both attorneys, Beaver County Judge John Dohanich decided that the trial would be continued until 9 a.m. Nov. 4.

    Phillips, 40, of 827 Jackson Ave., is accused of assaulting referee Eric Hermick, a state trooper, during halftime of an Oct. 9, 2009, football game between Monaca and South Side High School at Monaca Stadium.

    Monaca police have said Phillips, whose son was a Monaca player, was drunk and confronted Hermick near the ramp leading to the locker rooms because he was angry about calls that went against Monaca in the first half.

    On Monday, Hermick testified that he was leading the South Side team off the field when he saw Phillips with his back to him blocking the ramp that was congested with spectators and players.

    Phillips had been using foul language during the game, Hermick said, so when Phillips turned toward him, he warned Phillips about his behavior and told him to move.

    Hermick said Phillips then reached toward him, grabbed his shirt by his left shoulder and Hermick pushed him away. At that point, Monaca officer Eugene St. Clair, who, Hermick said, was standing next to him, intervened and all three men fell to the ground with Hermick catching himself with his hands.

    St. Clair and Phillips wrestled on the ground as St. Clair repeatedly ordered Phillips to stop resisting, Hermick testified. With Phillips continuing to resist, Hermick said he tried to help St. Clair by grabbing Phillips’ arm, but he could not control Phillips, either.

    Jeff Bradford, another WPIAL official who was attending the game as a fan, pulled Hermick away. Bradford later testified that he did so to protect his fellow official.

    St. Clair got up and shot Phillips with a stun gun after Phillips refused to surrender, Hermick said. The stun gun did not work on Phillips and he started walking toward St. Clair, he said.

    “It looked to me like he was going to attack the officer,” Hermick said.

    Hermick, who was behind Phillips, testified that he grabbed the hood on Phillips’ sweatshirt and pulled him to the ground, allowing Monaca officers to subdue Phillips.

    Hermick described Phillips as “highly intoxicated” with blood-shot eyes and reeking of alcohol.

    Hermick testified that, other than grabbing Phillips’ elbow, he never made any other physical contact with Phillips.

    Following the state trooper’s testimony, prosecution witnesses gave varying degrees of a similar story with some glaring differences.

    South Side head coach James Winner said Phillips attacked Hermick, but South Side sophomore player Devin Hample said, “I saw the ref sort of take the guy down.”

    Georgetown residents Theresa Riggs and Theresa Waxler, friends who attended the game, said Phillips attacked Hermick, but neither recalled seeing St. Clair at Hermick’s side and both said Phillips got shot twice with a stun gun.

    Waxler also insisted to Colafella that Phillips was wearing a gray sweatshirt although previous testimony had him wearing a red one.

    Bradford, who said he was standing near Phillips, said Phillips did not appear to be drunk and was not yelling profanities. Bradford said a group of young men on the other side of him were the ones screaming at officials.

    Monaca officer Mark Young said St. Clair and Phillips were wrestling on the ground when he ran to the scene. While Hermick said he pulled Phillips to the ground, Young said Phillips stopped resisting after Monaca Police Chief William Petures talked to him.

    Bonnie Baker, a nurse at the Beaver County Jail, testified that she circled “No” on an assessment form that asked if Phillips was under the influence of alcohol when he was booked, but she jotted down a question mark, too.

    “I was questioning whether he was under the influence of alcohol,” she said.


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