SHENANDOAH - Charges against a Schuylkill County man who has been accused of shooting and killing his neighbor in January have been held for court.

Following a preliminary hearing that lasted more than four hours, Magisterial District Judge Anthony J. Kilker determined the commonwealth proved a prima facie case and ordered all charges against Ronald A. Kozak, with the exception of second-degree murder that he dismissed, held for court.

Kozak, 66, of 555 Indiana Ave., Shenandoah Heights, is charged with killing Joseph R. Boris Jan. 18 in the driveway of the victim's home at 525 Indiana Ave.

Kozak was charged by state police Trooper Edward Lizewski of the Frackville station with one count each of criminal homicide, criminal trespass, simple assault and reckless endangering another person and two counts of aggravated assault.

The open count of criminal homicide includes first-, second- and third-degree murder, as well as voluntary and involuntary manslaughter.

After hearing arguments by Kozak's attorney, Frederick Fanelli of Pottsville, Kilker ruled the charge of second degree murder does not apply since an additional felony offense, such as robbery or rape, is required in the commission of a killing.

'I shot him'

Shenandoah police Patrolman Michael Dissinger said he and another officer, his son, Tyler Dissinger, were called to the scene.

Dissinger said he found Kozak, who fit the description given to him en route, took him into custody without incident and removed a small caliber handgun from Kozak's pants pocket where Kozak told the officer the gun was.

On the driveway of the Boris home, Dissinger said he saw a brick and noticed Kozak had a minor injury to his ear.

State police Trooper Thomas Powell said he arrived shortly after and said he spoke to Kozak briefly. During that time, Powell said Kozak said he was hit with something.

"I was hit. That's why I shot him," Powell recalled Kozak telling the officer.

Powell said Kozak was taken to Schuylkill Medical Center-South Jackson Street, where he was treated and eventually released.

Lizewski told the court he arrived and also spoke with Kozak who again said, "I shot him (Boris), I don't know where I hit him."

Lizewski said his investigation determined the cause of the fatal confrontation was apparently two-fold - an on-going dispute between neighbors and a fence that was taken down between the two properties.

Testifying on his interviews at the scene, Lizewski said in his criminal complaint that Boris sprayed Kozak with a garden hose, which caused the argument to escalate. Boris threw a brick at Kozak, who pulled out a Taurus .380 semi-automatic pistol and shot Boris once in the chest, the officer said.

Widow, coroner

Boris' widow, Denise, told the court she and her husband were shopping, returned home and carried packages in, but Joseph Boris went back into the garage to retrieve one remaining bag.

After hearing people talking, the woman said she went to the garage and saw Kozak and Joseph Boris arguing and that, as the argument escalated, her husband pushed his neighbor out of the garage and onto the driveway.

Denise Boris said she then saw her husband throw a brick, although she did not see Kozak get hit, and then heard a pop, saw her husband walk backward and fall to the ground.

When asked by District Attorney Christine Holman if Kozak was ever invited onto their property that day, Denise Boris said no.

Under cross examination by Fanelli, Denise Boris said the hostility between her husband and Kozak goes back years, starting when Joseph Boris was turned down by the zoning board for permission to build a garage and blamed Kozak for having something to do with it.

Another disagreement began when a wall between the properties was deteriorating, she said.

Denise Boris said she had no knowledge her husband removed part of a fence at the back of their property that caused the fatal confrontation between her husband and Kozak.

Schuylkill County Coroner Dr. David Moylan said Boris died from a gunshot wound to the torso and the manner of death was homicide.