Girlfriend held for court
MOUNT CARMEL - The live-in girlfriend of captured fugitive Arthur Mickel, who reportedly told police that her boyfriend assaulted a Mount Carmel woman outside a cigarette store in Atlas last month because she made derogatory comments about her, was held for court Wednesday morning on two charges, including one that was added to the criminal complaint just prior to the hearing.
Becky Lee Donner, 25, of 317 E. Columbia Ave., Atlas, was held for court by Magisterial District Judge Hugh Jones on misdemeanors of criminal attempt to commit simple assault and making false reports to police.
Donner, who is free on bail, was ordered by Jones to appear for arraignment June 18 at Northumberland County Courthouse, Sunbury, at which time she can plead guilty or no contest, or seek a trial by pleading not guilty.
The defendant, who was represented by Attorney Joseph Michetti, pleaded not guilty to both charges after Jones granted a request by Northumberland County Assistant District Attorney William Cole to amend the criminal complaint by adding a charge of false reports. Michetti objected to having the charge added.
Jones sent the case to county court despite objections by Michetti that the commonwealth failed to provide any testimony that showed his client was guilty of the charges.
Jones ruled enough evidence was presented during the 30-minute hearing to establish a prima facie case, but admitted that the commonwealth case was really "thin."
In his closing argument that followed testimony by Mount Carmel Patrolman Matthew Dillman and Mount Carmel Township Patrolman Kelly Campbell, who filed the charges against Donner, Michetti stated, "This case should not be bound over. There was no testimony linking my client to a charge of criminal conspiracy to commit simple assault. And charging her with false reports because she told an officer she didn't know where her boyfriend was one night, while being found the next evening at the farmhouse where her boyfriend was captured, baffles my mind. They can't prove the false reports charge."
Cole argued that the testimony provided by Dillman and Campbell was sufficient to send the case to county court, where the burden of proof will be more difficult.
Dillman testified that he assisted in Mickel's apprehension at a farmhouse near Numidia on April 16, which was two days after Mickel allegedly assaulted Mary Irving, of Mount Carmel, outside the Choice Discount Cigarette Outlet on Route 61 at Atlas.
After the assault, police said Mickel fled the scene in a red Mercury Sable that was also occupied by Donner and John Gilbert, 42, of 458 Columbia Ave., Atlas. Police Mickel, who was driving the car, fled from authorities into a wooded area after crashing the vehicle into a Weiser State Forest sign off Route 54 near Bear Gap.
Donner and Gilbert were taken into custody at the scene, but Mickel was able to elude authorities until his April 16 capture.
Dillman said he spotted Donner outside the farmhouse when Mickel was apprehended.
The officer also testified that he and Mount Carmel Sgt. Todd Owens pursued Mickel along Route 54 before he crashed the car into the state forest sign. Dillman said he and Owens were the first officers to arrive at the crash scene. He said Gilbert was a rear-seat passenger, while Donner was sitting in the passenger side front seat.
Campbell said he responded to a report of an assault at the cigarette store, where he was informed that Irving had suffered a head injury after being shoved to the ground.
Upon pursuing Mickel and arriving at the site of the crash, Campbell said Donner complained about her handcuffs being too tight. When Campbell went over to loosen the handcuffs, the officer said Donner told him that Irving had made some derogatory comments about her, which prompted her boyfriend (Mickel) to assault her.
The next night (April 15), Campbell said Donner spotted the officer responding to a call in her neighborhood and asked if she could talk to him about the charge he filed against her.
Campbell told the court that Donner wanted to know if anything could be done about the charge. While outside Donner's home, Campbell said he told the defendant things would go a lot easier for her if she knew Mickel's whereabouts. But the officer said Donner claimed she didn't know where her boyfriend was.
Mickel's preliminary hearing scheduled for Wednesday morning was continued until 10:30 a.m. May 12. The 46-year-old Mickel, who is recovering from two broken ankles that he suffered during an approximate 25-foot fall from the third floor of the farmhouse where he was apprehended, is incarcerated at York County Prison.
The defendant will require special transportation from the prison to his hearing next week because of his health problems.
Gilbert waived to court charges of resisting arrest and criminal conspiracy to commit simple assault at his preliminary hearing Wednesday before Jones. Gilbert, who remains in Northumberland County Prison in Sunbury, was ordered to appear for arraignment June 18 at the county courthouse.