At­tack on po­lice lands man in state prison

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Michael P. Rel­la­han mrel­la­han@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @Ch­escoCourtNews on Twit­ter

WEST CH­ESTER >> When con­fronted with a per­son rag­ing out of con­trol and mak­ing threats, a nor­mal ci­ti­zen can turn their heads and walk away. Not so po­lice of­fi­cers, a Ch­ester County prose­cu­tor told a Com­mon Pleas judge dur­ing a re­cent sen­tenc­ing hear­ing.

Rather, they must con­front the sit­u­a­tion even if it puts them in dan­ger, said As­sis­tant District At­tor­ney Bail Joy in ask­ing Judge Phyllis Stre­i­tel to sen­tence de­fen­dant Wil­liam Mathues to state prison for his at­tack on three West Ch­ester po­lice of­fi­cers who had re­sponded to a dis­tress call from Mathues’s for­mer girl­friend. One of the of­fi­cers was kicked in the groin dur­ing the con­fronta­tion.

“To as­sault po­lice of­fi­cers who pro­tect our com­mu­ni­ties is a

grave crime,” said Joy in a sen­tenc­ing me­moran­dum for Stre­i­tel. “It is one that, if left unchecked, would threaten the fab­ric and safety as a whole.”

The three of­fi­cers in­volved — Sgt. Jef­frey Ditz, Cpl. James Gor­man, and Of­fi­cer David Frantz — “did not have the lux­ury that other cit­i­zens do, to walk away from the prob­lem,” Joy wrote. “In­stead they did their job as po­lice of­fi­cers and dealt with it.”

Stre­i­tel ul­ti­mately sen­tenced Mathues, a home­less man with a long string of crim­i­nal be­hav­ior who had been con­victed pre­vi­ously for as­sault­ing the woman who called po­lice to her borough home last Au­gust, to three to seven years in state prison for the as­saults on the of­fi­cers, as well as other charges.

The judge also added an­other 1 1/2 years be­hind bars onto Mathues’ sen­tence for vi­o­lat­ing his pro­ba­tion of his pre­vi­ous con­vic­tion for sim­ple as­sault. Over­all, he will serve at least 4 1/2 years in state prison for the at­tack.

Joy had asked for a min­i­mum term of three years.

Mathues, 55, who has lived in the West Ch­ester area for sev­eral years but had no per­ma­nent ad­dress at the time of his ar­rest, was found guilty of three counts of ag­gra­vated as­sault, one count of man­u­fac­tur­ing a con­trolled sub­stance, and re­sist­ing ar­rest af­ter a jury trial in May in Stre­i­tel’s court­room.

In his tes­ti­mony at trial, Mathues claimed that he had not at­tacked the of­fi­cers, and had merely called them names be­fore they at­tacked him. In a pre-sen­tenc­ing re­port, Mathues told an in­ves­ti­ga­tor that the of­fi­cers had lied in their tes­ti­mony and that the jury had been un­fair in con­vict­ing him.

Ac­cord­ing to a crim­i­nal com­plaint filed by Ditz, the of­fi­cers re­sponded to a dis­tress call from an alarm ser­vice at the apart­ment of Kath­leen Ko­zlowsky on East Evans Street in the borough about 1:30 p.m. on Aug. 17, 2015. There, they found Ko­zlowsky es­sen­tially un­harmed but fear­ful of Mathues, with whom she had been ar­gu­ing and who had as­saulted her in the past.

She said Mathues had pushed her and threat­ened to kill her, say­ing, “I will kill any man I find you with,” ac­cord­ing to the com­plaint.

Ko­zlowsky told the of­fi­cers there was an ac­tive pro­tec­tion or­der in ef­fect against Mathues that pro­hib­ited him from con­tact­ing her, but that she had agreed to al­low him back into her apart­ment be­cause she felt sorry for him. She also said that Mathues was us­ing her apart­ment to grow mar­i­juana.

When Ditz ap­proached Mathues on a rear deck of the apart­ment, he could, in fact, see a large mar­i­juana plant on the deck. Mathues told Ditz he was per­mit­ted to stay in the apart­ment and that it had be­come his own res­i­dence be­cause of the time he had lived there. When Ditz tried to take him into cus­tody, he raised his leg and kicked Ditz in the groin.

Even though he was in con­sid­er­able pain, Ditz grap­pled with Mathues while Gor­man and Franz at­tempted to re­strain him. Mathues kicked at all three, ac­cord­ing to their tes­ti­mony, and ul­ti­mately had to be sub­dued by Gor­man us­ing a Taser. He had to be car­ried from the apart­ment af­ter be­ing hand­cuffed be­cause he re­fused to stand.

The of­fi­cers “put them­selves in harm’s way to make sure (Ko­zlowsky) was safe,” Joy said in his memo. “Their self­less­ness stood in sharp con­trast to (Mathues’) self­ish­ness.”

Mathues was rep­re­sented by As­sis­tant Pub­lic De­fender Kelly Ann Jurs.

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