A bullet hole through blood-stained Betty Boop pajamas, an alleged heat-packing ex-husband, a man asleep in his underwear on a couch, blood spatter on the floor and bed, a pistol on a dog bed, another bullet hole under the left breast of Marilyn Monroe, blood-soaked towels and an estranged wife in fear for her life.
It reads like some Quentin Tarantino noir, but it was pieces of the testimony Wednesday morning during the preliminary hearing of Pete Craig Tano, of Montgomery Township.
Even more intense was the John Grisham-meets-Aaron Sorkin-meets “Law & Order” action that occurred in the courtroom of District Judge Andrea Duffy in Montgomery Township.
The players: defense attorney Michael Quinn and prosecutor Assistant District Attorney Wallis Brooks.
In the end, after 90 minutes, Quinn waived all charges of his client to county arraignment on March 28.
In the end, Tano was sent back to Montgomery County prison with a bail increase to $250,000 cash from $50,000 cash.
Tano faces charges in March of two counts of felony aggravated assault, three counts of misdemeanor simple assault, possessing instruments of crime, recklessly endangering another person and defiant trespass.
Those charges were lodged against Tano on Jan. 30 for an incident that occurred the day prior around half past midnight.
Prosecutors accuse Tano of trespassing intoxicated into his ex-wife’s Colmar apartment on the 100 block of Bethlehem Pike, allegedly confronting a friend of his ex-wife, and allegedly shooting his ex-wife in her wrist.
'There was blood everywhere'
The victim was subpoenaed by the county to testify at the hearing, said Brooks.
The victim testified she was married to Tano for 17 years, and they have been together since they were 15 years old. They have two children together, a 12 year old and a 16 year old.
The children, she said, live with Tano because of their North Penn bus route.
“He wouldn’t let me see my daughter. My daughter calls me before she comes over,” she testified later in the hearing. “I have to ask permission to see my daughter. He wants control over (our daughter).”
The victim began to testify as to the events of the evening of Jan. 28 and the early morning of Jan. 29, before Quinn objected to her testimony.
He said the victim would incriminate herself during her testimony, due to the fact that she was in possession of and pointed a handgun at Tano.
“The only person you can give a blanket immunity is the D.A. The county is saying they will never prosecute this person,” Quinn said.
Brooks called it a “red herring.”
“She was at her residence, the defendant is the one who came to her residence. Anything she did is in the confines of the law,” Brooks said.
Duffy explained to the victim that she must be aware of the fact that the D.A. had spoken to her of how she had a handgun in her possession, but it was in her home.
“(The county) has no intention of taking it further,” Duffy said. “There’s assurance of the D.A. – there will be no criminal prosecution regarding the handgun in your own home.”
Brooks said the county used its subpoena power to produce a witness, and the victim complied.
Duffy agreed that the victim’s Fifth Amendment right was not implicated at the hearing.
The victim began to tell her story of how she picked up her friend, Sam Folger, at 2 p.m. from his house. They went to the park with her dog. They went and got some movies. They then went back to the victim’s apartment to watch the movies.
The victim said Tano called her because he wanted a haircut. She made Folger go next door to her neighbor, Dave.
“I didn’t want (Tano) to get mad that he was in there,” she said about Folger.
Tano showed up with their daughter around 5 p.m., and then left.
She testified that Folger came back and they went to Wawa for cigarettes. She said Folger wasn’t feeling good, so she bought him a sandwich. They came back and Folger fell asleep on the couch.
Tano returned with their daughter around 5 p.m., and she said he saw Folger.
“He just showed up,” she said. “He said, ‘I see you got plans already,’” she said.
Tano left again, and it was after midnight when he called the victim from the bar, she said. He was with her neighbor, Dave, at the bar.
“He asked who was in there, who is it,” she said of Folger. “I said, ‘Mind your own business. We’re not together anymore.’
She said Tano told her he would “find out who it is.”
The victim and Folger were sleeping, she testified. She woke up when she said she heard Tano pull up in her parking lot (“I could hear the tires flying”). She then heard the footsteps in the hallway. She said there was banging on her door and kicking at the door.
“Pete and I were arguing in the doorway over who was in my house,” the victim said. “He’s done it since we’ve always been together: he would constantly accuse me of cheating.”
She said there were prior domestic violence incidents, including one in Maryland.
“I could tell he was drinking; he was pissed off,” she said.
She said she told Tano to leave, and her neighbor Dave also told Tano to just let it go.
“We were both yelling,” she said. “He kept saying, ‘I want to know who is in there. I’ll get to the bottom of it. I’ll find out who’s in there.’”
She said Tano pushed her aside, causing her to knock over a lamp on the floor.
“Basically, (Tano) is always there. He was there in Telford. He was there in North Wales,” the victim said. “He always comes by uninvited.”
After Tano allegedly entered the home, he found Folger asleep on the couch in his underwear. The victim said she was wearing Betty Boop pajamas.
“He grabbed Sam off the couch. ‘Who are you?!’ Sam was sleeping,” she said.
“I as concerned he was going to do something,” she said. “Beat him up? I don’t know. I knew he was going to put his hands on him.”
At this point, the victim said she grabbed her gun, a .38-caliber revolver, and was waving it around.
“I was telling him to get the f--- out,” she said. “Get out of my apartment. I thought somebody was going to get hurt.”
She said Tano then pulled out his own gun, a Glock 9mm. They were about five feet away from one another, she said. Folger remained standing behind Tano the entire time, trying to figure out what was going on, she said.
“I dropped my gun where I was standing. I got scared,” she said. “I thought he was going to shoot me.”
She said Tano said to her, “You’re gonna pull a gun on me, bitch?”
The victim said she dropped her gun because she thought Tano would drop his gun.
She testified Tano reared up as if to come down on top of her head.
She put her left arm up to block the gun and protect herself, she said.
“As the gun hit me, it went off,” she said, sobbing. “There was blood everywhere. Part of my wrist is gone.”
She said she screamed out, “Oh my God! Oh my God! What did you do?” She said Tano replied, “You know I didn’t mean it. You know I didn’t mean it.”
She said Tano started to walk away, and she told him to call 9-1-1.
She said that, after Tano called 9-1-1, he and Folger left. She then went and wrapped a towel around her arm.
“After he hit me, I didn’t hear anything,” she said. “I knew I had been hit. When I got to the ER, the said I had a golf-ball sized knot on my head.”
The victim then turned to Tano in the courtroom.
“This is because of you!” she yelled. “You can’t control your jealousy. I lost control of my last two fingers! Do you know that?”
The victim said that Tano shot out her ulnar nerve.
“The hand specialist said it controls the last two fingers,” the victim said. “Eventually, I will lose all feeling and strength in my last two fingers and it cannot be repaired.”
She said she has to change her bandages twice a day and look at it twice a day. She said her 12-year-old daughter has to help her bathe, wash her hair and get dressed.
“I don’t know what he will do when he gets out,” she said.
'The bullet entry hole was under the left breast'
During the cross examination, Quinn attempted to ask what medications the victim was on. He wanted to know if medication affected her ability to perceive what was happening at the time.
Duffy said that fact-finding wasn’t appropriate for a preliminary hearing.
Quinn asked if the victim called her husband to ask him to help her get Folger off her couch.
“Why would I do that?” the victim said. “Sam’s my friend.”
Quinn asked if she saw Tano’s finger on the trigger. She said it happened so fast.
Sgt. Jeff Boyd, of Hatfield Township Police, said he arrived on scene around 12:41 a.m. By this time, first responder Officer Chris Graham had three men at gunpoint on the rear patio: Tano, Folger and Dave .
Boyd testified that Tano’s gun was found on the ground by the base of an exterior staircase, in its holster, where Tano threw it. He said he found the victim with a blood-soaked towel around her arm.
After she was transported for treatment at Abington Memorial Hospital, Hatfield Detective Rich Hoffner, who also testified at the hearing, got a verbal statement from the victim and her verbal consent to search the home.
Boyd said he found the victim’s gun on a pillow, which was used as a dog bed.
“There was a Marilyn Monroe poster above the bed – the bullet entry hole was under the left breast,” Boyd said.
During the cross-examination of Hoffner, Quinn inquired why the spent casing never ejected from the semi-automatic handgun.
“Would the fact that the casing stayed in the gun lead you to believe that maybe it was a misfire?” asked Quinn.
Hoffner said no. He said that, in his experience, but not as a gun expert, if the movement of the slide of a semi-automatic is compromised or inhibited, then it doe not complete its cycle and not eject the casing.
“There was an impression in the defendant’s hand, it was serrated, of a mark (of the slide). If you don’t have control of the grip, the slide will bite you,” Hoffner said.
Quinn said he was entitled to see the statement given by the victim to Hoffner.
Brooks objected, stating the county would not turn over its evidence to him.
And then, it got heavy. She called it a “red herring.”
“You are precluding me as a lawyer from giving me access to all items to examine that are physical evidence,” he said. “I want to know what the statement says. With all due respect, I’ve been doing this for 25 years …”
“As have I,” interjected Duffy.
She said Quinn could call Hoffner as his witness, and Quinn said he would, and then ask to see the statement.
Brooks persisted and Duffy obliged.
“I will not make the Commonwealth turn over its discovery to you,” Duffy said.
'See you in prison. I'm late for my appointment in Philly'
During the bail increase request, Brooks said that, based on the evidence, the nature of the victim’s injuries, and the fact that Tano is facing a lengthy prison sentence if convicted, bail should be increased to $500,000.
“He was caught at the scene, virtually red-handed,” Brooks said. “The victim is terrified of him.”
Quinn argued that his client is looking at a case of an accidental shooting due to self-defense from his ex-wife.
“In Pennsylvania, there is no duty to retreat; you have the right to shoot and use deadly force,” Quinn said.
Brooks said Tano came to the apartment without permission, he was the one kicking the door, he was the one banging on the door, he was the one who came armed to a household, he was the one who was jealous of another man in his ex-wife’s home.
“Because of the severe nature of the case, because he is facing a lengthy prison sentence, because he remains a danger to her, $50,00 is woefully insufficient,” Brooks said.
Quinn said the victim was the one who said she was legitimately scared for her safety, but said Tano was the better parent.
“If my client had money, he’d be out on the street by now,” Quinn said.
Quinn accused Brooks and Duffy of showing off for the newspapers, to which each took offense.
“That’s not what the Commonwealth is about,” Brooks said.
Duffy raised the bail to $250,000 because there needs to be a guarantee of safety.
“When you are looking at a lengthy sentence, the chances of appearing grow slimmer,” she said.
After the case was dismissed, Quinn threw Tano’s copy of his arraignment form at him.
“See you in prison. I’m late for an appointment in Philly,” said Quinn.
Tano looked on, confused.
“Wait. Wait. I just need to talk to you for one second,” he pleaded.
Quinn obliged and met with his client briefly, before he was taken back to prison.
You can read details on the initial arrest at this link.