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Constable gets 8 months for assault

September 06, 2000

Constable gets 8 months for assault



BY DON AINES / Staff Writer, Chambersburg


CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - A Hamilton Township constable convicted of four counts each of simple assault and recklessly endangering another person was sentenced Wednesday in Franklin County Court of Common Pleas to at least eight months in jail.

Theodore Deardorff, 44, of 503 Forest Road, Chambersburg, had been convicted in a July 10 jury trial on charges stemming from an incident at his home last year. Judge Douglas W. Herman sentenced him to from six months to one year on one simple assault charge and two to 11 1/2 months on the second.

The other six charges resulted in a total of four more years on probation. Herman fined him $150 on each count.

"After all I've been through as a result of this I stand to possibly lose my home," Deardorff told Herman before the sentencing. "My family has effectively been destroyed."

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"Your honor, I believe I've suffered enough," said Deardorff, who was representing himself. "I feel like a victim, not a villain. I cannot call this justice."

According to court records, at about 11:20 p.m. on Aug. 16, 1999, Deardorff's stepson Wilbur C. Minnich III, 20, of Chambersburg, arrived at Deardorff's house. Minnich's brother told him a friend was in the house and he went inside.

According to the Pennsylvania State Police affidavit of probable cause, Deardorff arrived home a few minutes later and threatened Minnich with a .45-caliber handgun. The affidavit said he pushed Minnich through a door, breaking the glass, and pointed the gun at Minnich's girlfriend and two juvenile boys outside the house.

Deardorff told Herman his attorney had left the legal profession since the trial and he had not had an opportunity to get new counsel because he had been involved in bankruptcy court and taking another relative to court appearances in Washington County, Md.

Herman asked if Deardorff wanted another delay in his sentencing, but he said he preferred to proceed. Deardorff asked Herman to consider a motion for post-trial relief, saying he had documentation that would cast "doubt as to the validity of the alleged victim's testimony."

Assistant District Attorney Tim Wilmont countered that some of the letters and other documents were dated prior to the trial and could have been introduced as evidence then.

Deardorff said some of those at his house that night were involved in a burglary ring and said Franklin County District Attorney John F. Nelson had refused to approve criminal complaints Deardorff had tried to file against them in connection with the incident.

Wilmont suggested to Herman that Deardorff serve his sentence in a different county prison because he is a constable and had once been a county prison guard. Deardorff said he preferred to serve the sentence in Franklin County to be close to his family.

Herman said that decision would be left to county prison officials.

Courthouse records said Deardorff was elected to a six-year term as a constable in Hamilton Township in 1997. Constables are peace officers whose primary duties are to serve warrants and other legal documents for district magistrate offices.

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