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Teenager charged in shooting waives preliminary hearing

June 21, 2006|by DAVE McMILLION

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - A Waynesboro, Pa., teenager charged as an adult with shooting a motorist in the neck with a pellet rifle waived his preliminary hearing Tuesday in Franklin County Central Court.

Wayne Lester Guessford, 17, of 36 W. Main St., is charged by Waynesboro police with aggravated assault, criminal mischief and two counts each of recklessly endangering another person and propulsion of missiles into an occupied vehicle or onto the roadway. The charges stem from incidents on May 24 and June 3, the first resulting in a 55-year-old Waynesboro man being shot in the neck as he drove through Center Square shortly after 11 p.m.

"It was about an eighth of an inch from piercing the victim's trachea," Assistant District Attorney Bret Palmer said Tuesday of the pellet wound Kile Nelson received May 24. Nelson drove himself to the emergency room of Waynesboro Hospital, from where he was airlifted to Hershey (Pa.) Medical Center.

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Nelson, who was at the courthouse Tuesday to testify in case a hearing had been held, was discharged from the hospital May 26.

Police connected Guessford to the Nelson shooting after a woman reported her vehicle was hit by a pellet gun as she drove near Dollar General on West Main Street on June 3 shortly after 2 a.m. The affidavit of probable cause stated that an officer investigating that shooting saw Guessford firing a pellet rifle from his third-floor apartment.

Police said Guessford and another juvenile were found in the apartment, along with the rifle and a box of pellets. Police also found damage to the Furniture Market and Masonic building across the street.

Waynesboro police initially also had charged Guessford with attempted homicide, "but that was withdrawn at the detention hearing," Palmer said. "The facts did not warrant the charge."

The felony aggravated assault charge, however, was serious enough to charge Guessford as an adult, although he was 16 at the time of both incidents, Palmer said. The boy with Guessford was charged as a juvenile, but not in connection with the shooting of Nelson, Palmer said.

Guessford's mandatory arraignment in court is scheduled for Aug. 2, but Assistant Public Defender Ian Brink said he will file a petition with the court to transfer Guessford's case back to juvenile court. The request for the transfer generally involves an evaluation of the juvenile and a hearing before a judge, Brink said.

Guessford had been held on $50,000 bond, but Magisterial Judge David Hawbaker approved Guessford for pretrial release, meaning he will be closely monitored by the Probation Department while he awaits trial.

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