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Charges forwarded against Williamsport man found nearly naked

Michael D. Commer is charged with two counts each of first- and second-degree assault and reckless endangerment, and one count each of burglary and malicious destruction of property

February 09, 2011|By DON AINES | dona@herald-mail.com

Assault and other charges against a Williamsport man found nearly naked and trying to stab himself with a pole last month were forwarded to Washington County Circuit Court following a preliminary hearing Tuesday in county District Court.

Michael D. Commer, 43, formerly of 36 E. Church St., is charged with two counts each of first- and second-degree assault and reckless endangerment, and one count each of burglary and malicious destruction of property in the Jan. 8 incident on the 13000 block of St. Paul Road near Clear Spring, according to court records.

Commer was staying at the home of Robert Hilliard, who had bailed him out of jail two days before the incident, Cpl. James Grinnan testified. Hilliard was sitting in the living room when he heard a sound and turned to see Commer leaping toward him from a kitchen countertop with a knife in his hand, he testified.

Commer caught a foot on the edge of a barstool and ended up on the floor, and Hilliard told him to leave the house, Grinnan testified. Hilliard told police he called another man, Walter Henson, to come to get Commer, he testified.

Henson told police that when the other man arrived, Commer was in a field acting as though he was "sword fighting with nobody," Grinnan testified.

 Commer then ran to a parked pickup truck and attacked it with a knife, Grinnan testified.

From there, Commer smashed a window at the rental home of Shawn Lowe, poured the contents of a gas can through the window and was heard "screaming for a lighter," Grinnan testified.

Officers from the state Department of Natural Resources and the Washington County Sheriff's Office arrived to find Commer sitting on the porch of Lowe's home wearing nothing but socks and his boxer shorts around his ankles, Grinnan testified. Commer was jabbing himself in the throat with a long aluminum pole and shouting for the officers to shoot him, he testified.

Commer was shocked with a Taser six times before he was subdued, Grinnan testified.

Assistant Public Defender Amy Taylor-Heimberg asked Grinnan if Lowe described Commer as looking crazed.

"He said, 'Like in the movies,'" Grinnan testified.

Taylor-Heimberg asked Grinnan if the officers thought something was wrong with Commer.

"Yes," Grinnan testified.

Taylor-Heimberg argued there was insufficient evidence to charge Commer with first-degree assault on Lowe, but District Court Judge Mark D. Thomas forwarded all counts to county Circuit Court.

Commer is scheduled to appear in District Court on March 31 on an attempted arson charge related to the same incident, court records said.

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