Church rejects plea deal
SUNBURY - A man who threatened his former girlfriend and claimed he would do "worse than what happened in Connecticut" at Priestley Elementary School near Northumberland in December has been offered a plea agreement by the county district attorney's office that requests jail time.
At Friday afternoon's pre-trial conference for 37-year-old Jeremy Church before Judge Charles Saylor, Assistant District Attorney Melissa Norton said the commonwealth has offered the defendant an opportunity to plead guilty to two felony counts of terroristic threats and one misdemeanor of terroristic threats in connection with the Dec. 20 incidents.
The standard range sentence for each of the offenses is probation to nine months incarceration. Under the plea agreement, the district attorney's office is seeking to have each of the sentences run consecutive to each other, meaning Church could receive a minimum prison sentence of 27 months.
In addition to the charges of terroristic threats filed by Point Township police, Church also was arrested by Point Township police for possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia involving a search of his vehicle Dec. 21.
The plea agreement calls for Church to receive probation for the drug paraphernalia offense, while the marijuana possession charge would not be prosecuted.
The defendant has a mailing address of 249 W. Market St., Middleburg, but told police he had been living out of his car at times.
Church, who has been incarcerated since his arrest Dec. 20, was represented by Public Defender Michael Suders.
The defense attorney, who did not accept the plea agreement Friday, said his client did not possess any weapons when he made the alleged threats and never got close to Priestley Elementary School on the day of the alleged offenses. Suders, who filed a motion to receive discovery evidence from the commonwealth Feb. 8, said Church should receive credit for time already served in prison, which is customarily granted by a judge at sentencing.
Saylor said if Church doesn't accept the plea agreement, the case will proceed to trial.
Church is accused of threatening to kill his ex-girlfriend, Valerie Eisenhuth, of Northumberland, and claiming he was going to retrieve their child from Priestley Elementary School and do "worse than what happened in Connecticut." The threat came just six days after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, where Adam Lanza shot and killed 20 children and six staff before shooting himself.
Church was taken into custody without incident about one hour after making the threat, which he had made during a phone conversation with Eisenhuth.
No one was harmed, although Priestley Elementary School in Point Township and four other buildings that make up Shikellamy School District were locked down during the incident and police blocked off roads leading to Priestley.