Domestic violence brings man to court
Judge accepts partial resolution to 3 cases involving W. Bradford man
WEST CHESTER >> A Common Pleas Court judge accepted an unusual, partial resolution to three cases involving a West Bradford man who had a series of violent outbursts involving his mother and a former girlfriend, who was pregnant with their child at the time.
Judge Patrick Carmody on Wednesday accepted guilty pleas to the two cases in which Benja-
min Lee Hall was accused of domestic violence directed at his then-girlfriend — slapping her in the face and choking and holding a pillow over her head while she was 18 weeks pregnant.
Hall, 20, was sentenced to one year probation for the slapping case, and will await sentencing by Carmody sometime in the future for the pillow assault.
But attorneys for the prosecution and the defense also informed Carmody that they are also attempting to come to an agreement on how to resolve a third case in which Hall is accused of threatening to kill his mother, Dawn Hall, at their home, and of taking a debit card and cash from her. He is charged with felony robbery, simple assault, and terroristic threats in that matter.
Assistant District Attorney Brian Burack, who is prosecuting the cases against Hall, told the judge that he and Hall’s attorney, John I. McMahon Jr. of Norristown, had agreed that if no resolution could be reached on the robbery case, Hall would withdraw his guilty pleas on the other matters and the two sides would start from scratch.
Carmody agreed to the arrangement, but warned Hall that the defendant should stay out of trouble while the cases were being resolved. The former prosecutor told Hall that as a DA, he had dealt with cases in which there were assaults on pregnant women, and that, “if someone harms a child, it is something I take very seriously.”
Carmody said that the
attorneys had once before approached him with a proposed plea agreement for the three cases, but that he had told them he would not accept it. “I was not comfortable with the last plea,” the judge said. “I am very concerned about the serious nature of this case.” The terms of that plea were not publicly disclosed.
Hall, who told Carmody he had been sober for the past 10 months, promised that he would stay trouble free. He was accompanied by family members in court.
The incidents that brought Hall to Carmody’s courtroom began on Oct. 3, 2015, when he came to his pregnant girlfriend’s home in Uwchlan late at night. The woman, identified in a criminal complaint as Kristi Saello, told state police Trooper Jonathan Potoka that Hall accused her of cheating on him with another man.
She said Hall pushed her on her bed and held a pillow tightly around her head to the point that she could not breathe. He then choked her. She tried to break free, he grabbed her and threw her on the bed, punching it with his first. He asked her, “do you want me to kill him?” while punching the bed next to her stomach.
Then, on Oct. 11, 2015, Hall picked Saello up at the restaurant where she worked, ostensibly to drive her home. But he instead demanded that she come with him back to his home in West Bradford, which she said she would not so. At some point, she realized that he was not driving to her house, and she tried to stop the car and jump out.
According to the complaint filed by Uwchlan Officer David Coppola, Hall punched Saello in the face
and pulled her from getting out of the car. She fell on the ground and began running away, but Hall caught up with her and made her get back in his car. Dazed and dizzy from the fall, she made Hall take her to Chester County Hospital, where she was examined and treated.
The incident with Hall’s mother allegedly occurred at their home on Aug. 28, 2015, but was reported to state police in March, as was the assault at Saello’s home. It was also investigated by Potoka.
An unidentified person recorded several conversations between Hall and his mother, in which he berates her with obscenities and threatens to harm her. “I will knock you out,” he can be heard saying on the video recordings, made with a cellphone. “Do you want to go to work with two black eyes?”
Dawn Hall is heard and seen begging her son to stop as he punches her in the torso, and later asking him to put away a knife he had taken. “I will slice your neck with it,” Hall tells her. “Either hang yourself or I am going to kill you.”
Eventually, Hall told his mother to give him her debit card, “Or I will kill you.” Dawn Hall allegedly gave Hall the card and cash.
In the pleas involving Saello, Hall pled guilty to terroristic threats and recklessly endangering another person. He was forbidden from having contact with Saello except in custody matters for their child.
Hall has been free on bail pending resolution of the cases.