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Electrocution attempt revealed at Pa. hearing

August 18, 2000

Electrocution attempt revealed at Pa. hearing



By DON AINES / Staff Writer, Chambersburg


WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Before shooting her husband, Patricia Gardenhour tried to electrocute him by throwing a hairdryer into the bathtub at their Washington Township home last week, according to testimony Thursday at her preliminary hearing.

Patricia Gardenhour, 67, of 926 Eastland Road, is charged with attempted homicide, aggravated assault and recklessly endangering another person in the Aug. 8, shooting, according to Washington Township Police.

District Justice Larry Pentz ordered her to appear in Franklin County Court of Common Pleas on the charges for formal arraignment on Wednesday, Sept. 27. He granted her attorney's request for bail, setting it at $200,000.

Attorney Lee Nollau of State College, Pa., said Patricia Gardenhour "is an appropriate candidate for bail" because she had no previous criminal record, is a lifelong resident and poses no flight risk.

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"I do believe Mr. Gardenhour is very much at risk," Assistant District Attorney Angela Krom said in asking that bail be denied. She said he was still in York (Pa.) Hospital in critical condition and "in an extremely vulnerable state."

A nursing supervisor at York Hospital said Eugene Gardenhour was still in intensive care there and was listed in critical condition.

Patricia Gardenhour remained behind bars Wednesday evening, according to a prison official.

At about 7:45 p.m. on Aug. 8, Eugene Gardenhour, 68, ran naked from his house to the home of his next-door neighbor, William Spangler. He went through the hedge separating their yards "covered with blood from his face to his ankles," Spangler testified Thursday.

"Help me, Bill. Hide me. Pat is trying to kill me," Spangler testified Gardenhour told him. He testified that he hid his neighbor in the garage, and then Patricia Gardenhour walked into his yard.

"Did I kill him?" Spangler testified she asked.

"Pat, go home," Spangler testified he told her.

On cross examination by Nollau, Spangler said he once heard Patricia Gardenhour say she thought her husband was unfaithful and "She wished he were dead."

"She thinks I'm having an affair," Washington Township Police Office Michael McGovern testified Eugene Gardenhour told him after the shooting.

Robert Miller of Marion, Pa., was working as an emergency medical technician that night. As he was treating Eugene Gardenhour at Spangler's house, Miller testified Gardenhour told him about the hairdryer.

"She first tried to electrocute me," Miller testified Eugene Gardenhour said. "She turned on a hairdryer and threw it into the tub. I threw it out and she shot me three times," Miller said Gardenhour told him.

Eugene Gardenhour told Miller that as he fled the house, his wife shot him two more times, according to Miller's testimony. Miller said he saw gunshot wounds in Eugene Gardenhour's upper chest and one in his chin. Miller said he later noticed wounds to Miller's side and thigh.

Washington Township Police Cpl. Vernon Ashway testified he saw blood and tissue splatters on the wall of the bathtub and a spent bullet in the water. He said there was a blood trail from the bathroom to the back door where there were two bullet holes in the screen.

Ashway testified he found a .38-caliber Smith & Wesson five-round revolver in a plastic bag in bushes behind the Gardenhour house and said Patricia Gardenhour told police where to find the gun.

Ashway testified there were five empty shells in the revolver.

The two most serious charges against Patricia Gardenhour, attempted homicide and aggravated assault, are first-degree felonies. Conviction carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, according to the Pennsylvania Crimes Code.

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