‘Bad blood’ spurs as­sault, jail time for Caln man

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

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.

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