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Man charged in Pa. school assault wants statements tossed

March 30, 2004|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - A Harrisburg, Pa., man charged with the attempted rape of a woman was in Franklin County Court on Monday asking Judge Carol Van Horn not to allow the prosecution to use statements he made to police or information about past sexual assaults when his case comes to trial.

Douglas Paul Wingert, 39, also is charged with indecent assault, unlawful restraint, terroristic threats and simple assault, according to court documents. He is charged in connection with an incident on May 22, 2003, in which a woman working at the Antrim Mennonite School near Greencastle, Pa., told police she was assaulted at knifepoint by a man who drove up to the school in a delivery truck in late afternoon and asked to use the phone.

The woman escaped from the man and hid in a nearby field until he left, Pennsylvania State Police said.

Wingert's attorney, Justin J. McShane of Hershey, Pa., is asking the court to suppress all statements Wingert made to Pennsylvania State Police when he was initially questioned on May 27 and statements he made following his arrest on June 11.

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Wingert took the stand Monday and testified he was convicted of rape in 1985 and served 17 years in state prison for rape and an unrelated indecent assault and was released in 2002.

Assistant District Attorney Nancy Meyers told Van Horn she wants to introduce testimony from the 1985 case, citing the Pennsylvania Superior Court decision in Commonwealth v. Ardinger, which allowed evidence of a similar incident in Hagerstown to be used in the trial of a Mercersburg, Pa., man charged with sexually assaulting a boy.

The case against David Ardinger went to trial last week in Franklin County and ended with a hung jury.

Evidence of other criminal cases of a defendant may be used to establish a common scheme or plan, or to show intent, Meyers said.

Trooper Daren Hockenberry testified he first spoke with Wingert on May 27 while he was making deliveries to a Greencastle, Pa., car dealership.

"He accused me of talking to him because of his past record," said Hockenberry, who testified he had no knowledge of Wingert's previous convictions.

Trooper Joseph Davidson testified he arrested Wingert on June 11 and read him his Miranda rights.

Wingert testified Davidson and Hockenberry played "good cop, bad cop," on June 11, with Davidson implying that the attempted rape charge could be dismissed if he confessed.

"I told them I was at the scene and actually touched this woman," Wingert testified.

Wingert testified he was read his rights. He said he called his boss at the time of his arrest to ask for an attorney and did so in the presence of the troopers.

McShane argued Wingert was under "custodial interrogation" on May 27 and should have been read his rights. McShane said police should not have asked Wingert any questions after he called his employer and asked for an attorney.

Meyers said Wingert was free not to answer any questions on May 27 and kept talking to police after his rights were read to him on June 11.

Van Horn said she will rule on the issues by late April.

Wingert, who has been in jail since June 11, is scheduled for trial in May.

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