Autopsy fails to link man with brother's death

The Chambersburg man was sentenced to time served after his charge was dropped to simple assault.

The Chambersburg man was sentenced to time served after his charge was dropped to simple assault.

January 08, 2003|by STACEY DANZUSO


CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - A Chambersburg man was sentenced recently to time served for simple assault after an autopsy could not conclusively prove a punch he threw at his brother in October was what caused his death, according to the Franklin County District Attorney's Office.

Bacilio Santos Martinez had been held on an aggravated assault charge in the Franklin County Prison on $1 million bail since the Oct. 3 fight with his brother, Pablo Santos Martinez, 51, at their 213 S. Main St. residence.

Pablo Martinez died the next day at Chambersburg Hospital of a cerebral aneurysm.

The District Attorney's Office was waiting for autopsy results before amending the charges, District Attorney Jack Nelson said.

Those results were available in mid-December.

He said the forensic pathologist, who consulted with a forensic neurologist, could not concretely link the alleged assault to the cause of death.


"A cerebral aneurysm is generally more consistent with death from natural causes. The pathologist indicated he could not testify to a reasonable degree of medical certainty (the fight) caused the death," Nelson said.

Nelson said he discussed the results with investigating officer Detective Sgt. Dianne Kelso of the Chambersburg Police Department and decided to reduce the aggravated assault charge to simple assault.

"In light of the evidence we had about the assault that there was one punch, that was more consistent with simple assault than aggravated assault," Nelson said.

He said Martinez, 40, entered a guilty plea to simple assault on Dec. 12 and was sentenced by Judge Carol Van Horn to time served.

With no prior criminal record and more than two months in jail, Martinez had already served more than the state guidelines recommend.

The standard sentencing range for simple assault with no prior record is probation to one month in jail.

"Once we realized we were not looking at a homicide, we moved it along quickly," he said.

Prison officials confirmed Martinez has been released.

Police were called to 213 S. Main St. Apt. C at 1 a.m. Oct. 3 for the report of an unresponsive person. The victim was taken to Chambersburg Hospital where it was determined he was suffering from heavy bleeding of the brain, according to the affidavit of probable cause.

Chambersburg Police officers spoke with the family through an interpreter and learned the victim had been struck in the head by his brother during a fight, the affidavit alleged.

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