Assault interrupts Pa. robber's sentencing

May 22, 1997


Staff Writer

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - An attorney representing a convicted armed robber during his sentencing in Franklin County Court Wednesday was punched in the face by his client, who became upset after learning he was going to prison for 10 years, court officials said.

Todd A. Dorsett, appointed to defend Gregory Ward, 26, of Chambersburg, was checked by a physician Wednesday afternoon. Dorsett said he sustained a possible mild concussion and would need X-rays to determine whether his jaw was broken. Dorsett, who wears braces on his teeth, was bleeding from his mouth after the attack.

Ward was charged with aggravated assault in connection with the courtroom incident, authorities said.

Dorsett and Ward were standing before Franklin County Judge Douglas Herman during a morning sentencing hearing. Ward was wearing an orange prison uniform and was not handcuffed.


Ward told the judge that he was not getting a fair deal and that he did not like his lawyer, according to Dorsett.

"I guess it was the mounting reality that he was going to go to prison for 10 years," Dorsett said.

After the attack, Ward was grabbed and subdued immediately by deputies stationed in the courtroom, court officials said.

Ward was being sentenced for the robbery of a state liquor store in downtown Chambersburg in May 1996. According to court records, the robber entered the store with a mask and a loaded handgun. He ordered the two clerks in the store to lie on the floor.

The robber poked one of the clerks in the ribs with the gun and ordered him to "open the safe or I'll kill you."

He left on foot and was captured a short while later by Chambersburg police, court records said.

Herman sentenced Ward to two consecutive five- to 20-year prison terms after the sentencing hearing resumed Wednesday afternoon.

After Ward was sentenced, he was taken before Franklin County Judge William H. Kaye to face charges of aggravated assault in the attack on Dorsett.

Ward was surrounded by five deputies and a Chambersburg Police officer. Ward was represented by another attorney from the Franklin County Public Defender's Office.

Dorsett watched the hearing from the courtroom gallery.

Ward will stay in Franklin County Prison until his preliminary hearing on the assault charge. He then will be transferred to the state prison system, court officials said.

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