‘Bad blood’ spurs assault, jail time for Caln man
WEST CHESTER >> The assault that brought Abue Jamal Fields to Common Pleas Court for sentencing Wednesday was graded as a simple one.
The circumstances behind it, however, are anything but.
Fields was sentenced to 1-1/2 to 23 months in Chester County Prison by Judge Anthony Sarcione for having pummeled another man, Jesse Brown, in the face, repeatedly punching him without warning as Brown sat in his car outside Fields’ house on Toth
Avenue in Caln in April.
But according to Fields and his attorney, Assistant Public Defender Nellie Bey, the assault was an expression of bad blood between Fields and Brown that goes back years. “This is about frustration and a lot of anger,” Fields told Sarcione
during the emotional proceeding. “This goes too far back.”
Fields, 43, is the father of a 3-year-old girl who was killed by her mother, who had tied the young child to a bed with scarves the night of her death in August 2007, stuffing rags in her mouth. According to police reports and court documents, the girl, known as P.J., was undernourished and underweight at the time of her
death. She weighed only 22 pounds, 8 ounces, and was only 35 inches tall, well below the norm for a girl her age. Brown had some connection to the mother.
When she died, she also showed signs of past abuse, with bruises on her arms and legs, as well as her buttocks and scalp. An autopsy showed that her brain lacked proper oxygen, and that her death by that lack of oxygen and malnourishment had
been exacerbated by the beatings she endured.
The mother, Michal James, was sentenced to 71/2 to 15 years in prison in 2009 after pleading guilty to charges of involuntary manslaughter and false imprisonment, a sentence she has completed.
In her comments to Sarcione about the matter, Bey made it clear that Fields harbored some “animosity” toward Brown because of his
past association with James. Even though there was no evidence or suggestion that Brown knew of or participated in the abuse that P.J. suffered, Fields believed that somehow Brown was partly responsible for the girl’s death.
“He didn’t do nothing, but he was there,” Fields told Sarcione of Brown, who was seated in the rear of the courtroom. “He took away from her being cared for.”
The suggestion brought an objection from Assistant District Attorney Cynthia Morgan, who prosecuted the case, and signs of frustration from Brown and his family over the suggestion that he had something to do with P.J.’s death. But Sarcione allowed Bey to explain how the past and current connections between Fields and Brown had eventually led her client to assaulting Brown, an act she acknowledged was unjustified and improper.
“He simply did not like Mr. Brown coming to his house,” Bey said. “There was a lot percolating under the surface here.”
In addressing Sarcione, Fields said that his current wife, with whom he has a 9-year-old special-needs son, had found a job working at a child care center run by Brown’s wife. On occasion, Brown and his wife would come to his house to pick his wife up to drive her to work. But that brought back old memories of his deceased daughter, and he asked his wife to have Brown stop coming by.
Fields said he had even
asked his brother, Damon Wylie, to speak with Brown about it. He did not know what the two said, however. Wylie — who had been acquitted of murder charges for the stabbing death of a friend in 2013 — was shot and killed on a Coatesville street in late September, a fact that Fields is still grappling with.
Bey noted that since he got married and again became a father, Fields had stopped any criminal behavior or drug use and had turned his life around. He works regularly and volunteers at a local church, she said in asking Sarcione to consider a sentence of probation for her client.
The judge, however, sided with Morgan in believing that some period of incarceration was warranted, not only for the brutality of the assault — Fields punched Brown between 10 and 20 times — but because of the lasting injury that Brown suffered to his jaw and teeth. On balance, the judge said, a short time in prison was justified.
“What concerns me is when this is going to end,” Sarcione said of the bad blood between the two men. “You have got to control this anger.”
Sarcione gave Fields until Monday to report to prison. He must complete an anger management course, and stay away from both Brown and his wife.