Do­mes­tic vi­o­lence brings man to court

Judge ac­cepts par­tial res­o­lu­tion to 3 cases in­volv­ing W. Brad­ford man

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

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.

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