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Ex-wife says she wtill fears husband who was charged in assault

January 24, 2007|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - A Chambersburg man whose conviction for allegedly battering his former wife with an angel figurine was overturned last year was in Franklin County Court Tuesday seeking bail, but his ex-wife testified that she still fears him.

"He's already tried to kill me once," Karen Amerson testified at the bail modification hearing for Thomas Lee Amerson.

"My question is, 'Why does he want to stay in this area?'" she testified. "In my mind, it's to finish what he started."

The Pennsylvania Superior Court overturned Thomas Amerson's Jan. 25, 2005, conviction for aggravated assault and terroristic threats, citing his trial attorney's failure to request that the jury be instructed that it could consider convicting him of simple assault. The court found "without legal merit" Amerson's other argument that there was insufficient evidence to convict him of aggravated assault.

Judge Richard J. Walsh did not rule Tuesday on Amerson's bail request.

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Amerson, 52, was sentenced to 23 months to 15 years in state prison and was eligible for parole, having served more than three years, according to the motion to modify bail. That included time spent in the county prison before being released on bail; credit for time spent on an electronic monitor while awaiting trial and sentencing; and time in state prison.

After Amerson was granted a new trial, however, the jurisdiction for his case reverted from the state back to Franklin County, said his attorney, Eric Weisbrod. Thus, "the Parole Board lost its authority to parole him," the motion stated.

The motion stated that Amerson is indigent, cannot post a monetary bail and asked the court to set an unsecured bail.

Assistant District Attorney Jeremiah Zook asked Walsh to set a cash bail of at least $150,000.

According to court records, Karen Amerson had "serious facial and head injuries" in the Dec. 11, 2003, assault at the couple's home. She was struck several times with the figurine and choked to the point of unconsciousness, Chambersburg police said.

Thomas Amerson testified Tuesday that he harbors no ill will toward his ex-wife. Under questioning by Weisbrod, he testified that he has had no contact with her since the incident, although there is still litigation over property.

Amerson testified that, if he makes bail, he has made arrangements for a place to live and possible employment while awaiting a new trial.

Weisbrod told Walsh that Amerson is not a flight risk or a threat to Karen Amerson's safety. If retried and convicted, Weisbrod said the court likely will not be able to sentence Amerson to a term longer than that which he has served.

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