Alleged teen 'goon' adjudicated on four offenses
SUNBURY - An alleged member of the "Goon Squad" charged with assaulting a Shamokin man last month was adjudicated Tuesday morning on four criminal offenses, including two felonies.
Chad Lytle, 17, of Shamokin, was found not guilty of aggravated assault when witnesses couldn't positively identify him as the person who injured Keith "KC" Long.
Lytle was returned to Northwestern Academy in Coal Township after being adjudicated by Northumberland County President Judge William H. Wiest on felonies of criminal conspiracy to commit aggravated assault and riot, and misdemeanors of simple assault and disorderly conduct. He was not adjudicated on a felony of aggravated assault. Disposition (sentencing) in the case is scheduled for 2 p.m. Tuesday, March 25.
Being adjudicated in juvenile court is the same as being found guilty in adult court.
The one-hour hearing, which was open to the media since it involved felony offenses, included testimony by the victim, witness Timothy Elliott Jr. and arresting officer Patrolman William Miner. Lytle did not take stand.
Lytle's attorney, James Best of Sunbury, asked for all the charges to be dismissed for lack of evidence presented by the commonwealth. According to testimony and other evidence presented in the case, Best said Ryan Forte, 18, of 18 S. Market St., Apt. 1, Shamokin, was the person responsible for causing Long's serious injuries during a Feb. 23 assault in the 400 block of East Independence Street.
Long suffered a broken nose, a cut on his lower lip that required five stitches, four damaged teeth, broken braces and severe facial swelling that required emergency room treatment at Geisinger-Shamokin Area Community Hospital and follow-up care by an orthodontist.
District attorney Tony Rosini argued that Lytle and four other individuals charged in connection with Long's assault acted together and there was sufficient evidence to adjudicate him on all the charges.
Long, a junior at Shamokin Area High School, testified that he has known Lytle for a few years and that the defendant made threats to him and his friends about bringing a knife to school. He admitted being involved in one prior incident with the defendant at school.
He said Lytle, accompanied by a few others, first approached him on the day of the assault while he was walking on Lincoln Street near Eighth Street. He said Lytle ran over to him and punched him on the side of the face before challenging him to a fight in the middle of the street.
The victim, who said the punch to his face did not injure him, continued walking before he claimed Forte, Lytle and Cage Cossari, 16, of Shamokin, assaulted him on East Independence Street near Shamokin Street before fleeing the scene when a passer-by stopped to assist him.
Long said he then walked to the nearby Sons of Italy, where he called his mother for help.
The victim said he and his mother then went to Shamokin Police Station to report the assault, but after noticing his serious facial injuries and the difficulty he had talking, Officer Miner directed him to go to the local hospital first, which he did before returning for an interview.
Rosini presented photographs depicting Long's serious injuries.
Under cross examination from Best, Long denied ever picking on Lytle.
Elliott testified that he saw a group of teens assaulting Long and cursing and screaming at the victim after he stopped his car to offer assistance. But the witness said he didn't recognize Lytle as being one of the group who assaulted Long. When asked again by Rosini if Lytle was there, he stated, "I'm not sure."
After conducting interviews with Long, Elliott and Lytle and obtaining additional information, Miner said he found enough evidence to charge Lytle and the others in the assault.
He said Lytle denied being involved in the assault on East Independence Street. He said the defendant told him he "blacks out" when he gets upset.
The officer said Lytle told him he was walking with his friends when Long started taunting him to fight on Lincoln Street. He then claimed Long charged him before he blacked out. Lytle said he didn't know if he hit Long or not. Upon walking near the Knights of Columbus, he said Long taunted him again before charging at Forte. Lytle said Forte and Long then started to fight.
Lytle, who was wearing a white American Eagle sweatshirt and sneakers, conferred a few times with Best and his stepfather, Paul Foulds, during the hearing, but showed little emotion after Wiest adjudicated him on most of the charges. He briefly met with his family after the hearing.
After Wiest issued his ruling, Northumberland County Probation Officer Shawn Kalman recommended that Lytle be returned to the shelter care program at Northwestern Academy despite being involved in some incidents with another juvenile at the facility that required staff to restrain him.
Lytle was initially housed at a juvenile facility in Bellefonte due to the seriousness of the charges before being transferred to Northwestern Academy.
After the hearing, Rosini said he felt Wiest's ruling was appropriate. He admitted the aggravated assault charge was going to be difficult to prove since none of the witnesses positively identified Lytle as throwing the punches that resulted in Long's injuries.
Forte was arraigned Feb. 27 on the same charges as Lytle and is scheduled to appear for a preliminary hearing Tuesday before Magisterial District Judge John Gembic III. He remains in Northumberland County Prison in lieu of $100,000 cash bail.
Cossari was charged with aggravated assault, riot, simple assault and disorderly conduct. Lytle's two brothers, Seth, 15, and Kyle, 14, were charged with riot and disorderly conduct.
The Lytles and Cossari were charged through juvenile petitions.
All the charges were filed by Miner.
Cossari and the younger Lytle brothers, who remain free, are awaiting their adjudication hearings in Northumberland County Court.
Shamokin police previously said Forte, the Lytle brothers and Cossari are members of a group known as the "Goon Squad" who have been involved in fights, vandalism and intimidation during the past two months in the city.