Two charges dropped against Whit­pain man in crash, theft case

North Penn Life - - News - By Linda Stein lstein@jour­nal­reg­is­ter.com

Af­ter lis­ten­ing to tes­ti­mony from four wit­nesses at a pre­lim­i­nary hear­ing Tues­day, Dis­trict Judge Harold Borek dis­missed charges of drivLQJ uQGHU WhH LQfluHQFH DQG re­sist­ing ar­rest that had been lodged against a 24-year-old Whit­pain man who is ac­cused of crash­ing his car into a tree at St. Stanis­laus El­e­men­tary School in Lans­dale.

How­ever, Borek up­held a charge of theft of mov­able prop­erty against Eric J. Otto, of the 1700 block of Whit­pain Hills, for al­legedly tak­ing a $11,270 check from the home of Laura Ash­ley Grebe where Otto had been drink­ing vodka just prior to the ac­ci­dent at 12:39 a.m. May 20, ac­cord­ing to tes­ti­mony.

The judge also up­held sum­mary charges of care­less driv­ing and caus­ing an ac­ci­dent to an unat­tended ve­hi­cle or prop­erty.

2IfiFHU ChULsWLQH CRhHQ, whR WHsWL­fiHG DQG DOsR SUHsented the case to the court, sDLG WhDW shH hHOSHG 2IfiFHU Dan Gal­lagher sub­due Otto, who was strug­gling. GalODJhHU WHsWL­fiHG WhDW hH sDw Otto run away af­ter Gal­lagher ar­rived on the scene and DQQRuQFHG hH wDs DQ RI­fiFHU. Gal­lagher pushed Otto to the ground and Otto kept his hands un­der him, kicked his legs and swore at him, Gal­lagher said.

Grebe said that Otto had been at her apart­ment ear­lier that evening af­ter her friend, Melissa Ni­chol, in­vited him over. The three talked on a bal­cony for a while be­fore the two women de­cided to go meet other friends at a bar with­out Otto.

Just as the trio left, Otto re­mem­bered that he left his glasses inside, Grebe said. Ni­chol took him back inside to get them.

Otto drove off and the women also left but heard a “very loud pop­ping noise,” said Ni­chol. They turned around and saw Otto hang­ing out of his win­dow with his car crumpled on a tree at the school, said Ni­chol.

“I ran over and hugged him,” she said. “He said, ‘Don’t call po­lice.’” When Otto saw that Grebe was on her cell­phone, he ran over to her car and tried to grab it, she said.

$s DQ RI­fiFHU wDs SDWWLQJ Otto down, he found Grebe’s FhHFN LQ hLs SRFNHW, CRhHQ said.

De­fense lawyer Louis R. Bu­sico ar­gued that there was not enough ev­i­dence to charge GULvLQJ uQGHU WhH LQfluHQFH RU re­sist­ing ar­rest. He pointed out WhDW WhH RI­fiFHUs hDG QRW usHG their Tasers or pep­per spray to sub­due Otto.

Borek asked how he could de­ter­mine that Otto was over the limit with­out the blood al­co­hol test.

“He was clearly in­ca­pable [RI GULvLQJ@,” sDLG CRhHQ. “He was seen drink­ing and within a short time, he had an ac­ci­dent.”

Af­ter­ward, Bu­sico said the state did not have enough ev­i­dence to sup­port the charges against his client that the judge dis­missed. An Oct. 10 date was set for Otto LQ CRPPRQ 3OHDs CRuUW LQ Nor­ris­town. He re­mains free on $5,000 bail.

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