A Telford teen heads to Montgomery County Court on felony assault and robbery charges, after District Judge Kenneth Deatelhauser Tuesday dismissed three charges and held the rest over at a preliminary hearing in Souderton.
Matthew Wiggins, 18, of the 300 block of Franconia Avenue, The man testified he suffered a ruptured eardrum for two weeks from the beating.
Wiggins' alleged 17-year-old co-conspirator testified against Wiggins at the hearing.
Wiggins faces the following felony and misdemeanor charges at a county arraignment Sept. 26 at 9:30 a.m.:
- Felony Robbery-Inflicting Serious Bodily Injury
- Felony Robbery-Inflicting Serious Bodily Injury Upon Another or Threatens Another with or Intentionally Puts him or her in fear of immediate bodily injury
- Felony Aggravated Assault
- Felony Conspiracy to Commit Robbery with Serious Bodily Injury
- Misdemeanor Criminal Attempt at Simple Assault
- Two Counts of Terroristic Threats
- One Count of Disorderly Conduct
- One Count of Harassment
Deatelhauser dismissed a charge of loitering and prowling at nighttime, a charge of harassment and a charge of defiant trespassing.
Montgomery County Certified Legal Intern Doug Lavenberg, along with Telford Borough Detective Daniel Fox, withdrew a felony charge of intimidating a witness due to Wiggins' subpoenaed girlfriend failing to appear at the hearing to give testimony.
Wiggins' attorney, Craig Kellerman, attempted to get the new charges denied, but Deatelhauser overruled.
Kellerman attempted to get Wiggins' bail reduced, but Deatelhauser kept it at 10 percent of $50,000 cash. Wiggins remains at Montgomery County Prison.
Wiggins is charged for his alleged involvement, along with a co-conspirator, in the luring out of the victim from his home, chasing him down the street, beating him in the head and robbing his pockets.
The Victim Testifies
The 20-year-old victim of the 300 block of Northview Avenue testified that he was in his home watching TV on the couch at 9:40 p.m. July 16 when he heard a knock on the door.
He answered and heard a voice that he recognized as Wiggins, he said.
"He told me 'Let's take it to the streets.' That means fight. I didn't want to. I told him to leave," the victim said. "He said, 'If you don't come out here, I'll find you. I'll fuck you up and I'll fuck your car up.'"
The victim said he told Wiggins to leave and Wiggins said, "I'm going to fuck your car up right now."
The victim said he stepped out of his house to confront Wiggins, and "some other boy" came running around from behind his father's truck that was in the driveway. He described the accomplice as "5 foot 10" and "white."
The victim said he did not give Wiggins permission to be there.
When the victim saw the alleged accomplice come around the truck, he ran, he said, down Northview toward Franconia Avenue.
"Why did you run?" asked Lavenberg.
"I wasn't thinking," said the victim. "I ran down the street. I tried to turn onto Franconia Avenue, and the white kid punches me on the side of the head."
The victim said he turned to run the other way.
"I had no intention of fighting. I tried to reason with Matt," the victim said. "He said 'Stand face to face and tell me you apologize.' I said I was sorry and he hits me on the side of the head."
The victim said he turned again to run, but the 17 year old hit him on the left side of his head again.
"It gets blurry. I was dazed," the victim said. "When he hit me, I went black. I was seeing stars."
The victim said he "got glimpses" of the persons hitting him.
He said he was hit and stomped on while on the ground.
"The white kid was in front of me. The white kid was stomping me," the victim said. "It was Matt. No one else was there."
He said Wiggins told him to empty his pockets - asking him for money and saying "What you got?" - and he told Wiggins he didn't have anything.
"He went through my pockets. The white boy took my boots off," the victim said. "They were tossed, one was thrown at me. The other one was thrown in a ditch."
The victim referred to Wiggins in the affidavit and in court as "black Matt."
That didn't sit well with Kellerman, who pressed the victim as to why he referred to Wiggins as "black Matt."
"His name is Matt and he's black," said Deatelhauser to defense counsel.
"Why not 'biracial Matt'? Why not 'ni--er Matt'?" said Kellerman, before being reprimanded by Deatelhauser.
The victim said he got up and walked home. Somebody called the police during the incident and they responded to his home, he said. The police asked him what happened and they also suggested he go to the hospital, he said.
The victim suffered a punctured left eardrum, kidney contusions and bruises and scrapes to his elbows, knees, back and both ears, he said.
"I felt, at that point, that he wanted to harm me for whatever reason it was," the victim said. "I didn't understand why."
In a cross examination, the victim testified he last saw Wiggins 13 years ago. He recently talked to and hung out about four times with Wiggins, the latest being a month before the incident.
"I helped him move his mom's stuff to her new apartment," the victim said. "I once took him to see fireworks."
Kellerman wanted to know why the victim didn't just return to his home and call police when allegedly confronted by Wiggins and his friend.
Lavenberg objected, saying the incident wasn't self-defense and the victim had no duty to retreat into his property.
Kellerman redirected the question, asking that if the victim was lured outside, why wasn't he lured back inside to call 911.
"I get the point," interrupted Deatelhauser.
"I was hoping to outrun him, get him tired," said the victim. "It was fight or flight, so I ran."
The Co-Defendant Testifies
Wiggins' alleged 17-year-old co-defendant, who is in custody of law enforcement for his alleged connection to the case and charged with aggravated assault and conspiracy to commit aggravated assault, testified that he was with Wiggins and another accomplice on the night in question. He said they were in a car, driving to the victim's house.
"One of the people in the party wanted to go there. It was Matt Wiggins' idea," the 17-year-old co-defendant said. "He said he needed to get some money."
Lavenberg asked if Wiggins gave an indication that he was going to fight someone.
"Yes, he said he was going to beat (the victim) the fuck up," he testified. "He said he was going to take stuff."
He testified he saw Wiggins texting someone in the car.
"He told me to exit the vehicle because he wanted me to stand by," the co-defendant testified. "When (the victim) came out, he wanted me to hit him."
He said Wiggins told him to stand behind the truck because he didn't want the victim to see him.
"He told (the victim), 'Come out and walk with me. We'll fight and it will be over,'" he said.
He added that the victim told Wiggins that he wasn't trying to fight and that he was sorry.
He said the two walked outside and he came out from behind the car. He said the victim ran and Wiggins gave chase.
He testified that he tackled the victim and Wiggins told the victim to get up. He said the victim was not fighting back.
"They started fighting. (The victim) wasn't fighting back," he said. "(Wiggins) was making contact."
He said the victim fell, and Wiggins began hitting and kicking the victim in the face about five to 10 times.
"Did the victim lose consciousness?" asked Lavenberg.
"It seems like he did," said the co-defendant. "Matt Wiggins was saying how he was a pussy, he was a fake ass gangsta."
He testified it was Wiggins who went through the victim's pockets and told him to take off his shoes.
In a cross examination by Kellerman, the 17-year-old co-defendant said he used to be friends with Wiggins, and gave a reason for allegedly helping him the night of July 16.
"Everybody needs help," he said. "You help someone out, he helps you out."
He said he did not know why Wiggins asked him to be there that night. He also did not know who Wiggins was texting.
"Did Matt Wiggins say (the victim) owed him money for a previous weed transaction?" asked Kellerman.
"No," said the co-defendant. "He said (the victim) gave him free stuff - weed, alcohol and money."
"You thought Matt Wiggins was going to (the victim) on July 16 because he wanted to get weed and alcohol?" Kellerman asked.
"Yes," said the co-defendant.
Kellerman asked if there was anything to prevent the victim from going back into his home during the alleged confrontation.
"There shouldn't have been," said the co-defendant.
The co-defendant is headed to The Summit Academy, located in Herman, Butler County, PA. It is a private, residential, behavior rehabilitation school for delinquent young men ages 14 to 18 and serving grades nine to 12.
Detective Fox Testifies - Almost
Fox was called to testify at the hearing - a testimony that included mention of a witness who was subpoenaed but never appeared - but Deatelhauser wouldn't allow it without the witness present.
Fox said the witness was "afraid" of Wiggins and his family.
"We had a good faith belief that the witness will be at the trial," Lavenberg said.
Lavenberg eventually withdrew the felony intimidating a witness charge from the hearing.
End of the Hearing
Kellerman argued to get the aggravated assault, trespassing and threat charges dismissed. He said the victim never showed medical proof of his injury, and a punctured eardrum is not a serious bodily injury. Lavenberg said that's not what the law says in Pennsylvania.
The trespass charge was dismissed because the victim established a relationship between himself and Wiggins during testimony.
Lavenberg argued that serious bodily injury was inflicted, as the co-defendant testified that the victim lost consciousness.
Deatelhauser dismissed three charges and kept all remaining and new charges.
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