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Witness says he saw fatal Pa. attack

July 26, 2002|by STACEY DANZUSO

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

A neighbor who witnessed part of a fight between a Fayetteville, Pa., woman and her estranged husband before she was stabbed to death said he attempted to help until he saw the man was holding a knife.

Richard Grant, a Fayetteville resident, testified Thursday at William Edward Cleary's preliminary hearing that he heard screaming coming from outside of 2208 Lincoln Way East on July 6, and saw William Cleary hit Teresa Jean Cleary, 33.

William Cleary, 28, is charged with first degree murder in the stabbing death of his wife.

"I saw a woman with her arms swinging around and a guy strike her with his fist while I was in the kitchen filling ice cube trays in front of the window," said Grant, of 2195 Lincoln Way East.

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"I ran out the front door and down the street to help her. When he saw me approach he stood up and had a knife. I ran back to the house and called 911," Grant said.

Grant pointed out William Cleary in the hearing room Thursday as the man he saw fighting with Teresa Cleary.

William Cleary, of 137 E. Garfield St., Chambersburg, was handcuffed and wearing an orange Franklin County Prison jumpsuit.

During the 40-minute hearing before District Justice Larry Pentz in Waynesboro, Grant, Pennsylvania State Police Trooper Aaron Martin and Franklin County Coroner Jeffrey Conner testified for the prosecution.

Defense attorney Andrew Northfleet questioned those witnesses and did not call any of his own.

Grant said after calling 911, he stayed on a portable phone with the dispatcher but walked back toward 2208 Lincoln Way East and saw Teresa Cleary lying on the ground. He said William Cleary was lying next to her, and as he approached Cleary sat up a little and sliced his own neck with a knife.

William Cleary was in Chambersburg Hospital for five days recovering from self-inflicted stab wounds before he was transferred to Franklin County Prison, where he is being held without bail, according to police and prison officials.

Northfleet asked Grant if he could see William Cleary's back or any wound to the back of his neck. Grant said he did not.

Martin testified that he and another officer moved William Cleary away from a knife that was within his reach when they arrived on the scene. He said he then asked him what had happened and who had stabbed Teresa Cleary.

"He said, 'I did,'" Martin said.

Northfleet questioned Martin about William Cleary's condition after the stabbing.

"How did the defendant seem to you when you talked to him? Was he coherent? Visibly wounded? Did he appear to be in pain? Was he bleeding?" Northfleet asked.

Martin answered yes to all of the questions, but said William Cleary did not seem to be bleeding a lot and he was not having trouble breathing or talking.

Conner said Teresa Cleary died of multiple stab wounds, although he is still waiting for the final autopsy report.

After hearing the testimony Thursday, Pentz ruled that the commonwealth met the burden of proof to hold William Cleary over for court on the first-degree murder charge.

Pentz scheduled him for arraignment at the Franklin County Courthouse on Sept. 4, at which time William Cleary will enter a plea.

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