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Dispute over party cover charge leads to homicide charges

Two pre-St. Patrick's Day parties in a Scranton apartment building appear to have resulted in two violent crimes committed by the same man. Despite accusatory statements from several eyewitnesses, the man was still proclaiming his innocence after being arrested and charged with both crimes.

Two parties were occurring in the apartment building, one on the first floor and one in the attic. Persons wishing to attend the party in the attic were required to pay a cover charge. One of the guests changed his mind after paying the cover charge and decided to leave the party. His demand for a return of his cover charge led to a scuffle that soon involved the defendant. Threats were flying between two groups of men, one group with the guest and another with the defendant. The defendant drew a knife and stabbed the guest.

At this point, a relative of the defendant who shared the first floor apartment with him, attempted to break up the fight by grabbing the defendant from behind. The man received a fatal stab wound as the two men struggled over the knife. In the end, the defendant was arrested and charged with criminal homicide, aggravated assault and related charges. The defendant was incarcerated in the Lackawanna County Prison and is being held without bail.

The evidence against the defendant may appear to be overwhelming, but the defendant is nevertheless entitled to be presumed innocent until found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Witnesses' accounts may be erroneous, the police may have failed to properly advise the defendant of his constitutional rights or other facts may prove the defendant's innocence. Anyone facing similar charges would be well-advised to consult an experienced criminal defense attorney for an analysis of the facts, an enumeration of potential defenses and an estimate of the likelihood of obtaining a favorable plea agreement or an outright acquittal.

Source: Pocono Record, "Man arrested in fatal Scranton stabbing," Joseph Kohut, March 15, 2016

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