A Coaldale man was found guilty of striking his wife with his pickup truck following an argument, despite the reluctance of his wife to testify against him.
George Joseph Bonetsky, 34, of 262 Fourth St., was found guilty of charges of simple assault-causing bodily injury with a deadly weapon, and recklessly endangering another person. The deadly weapon was the pickup truck.
He was found guilty of the two counts after a one day trial Monday in Schuylkill County court. Judge Jacquelyn Russell, who presided over the trial, deferred sentencing to a later date.
Bonetsky was so confident he would be acquitted he waived testifying on his own behalf and presented no witnesses. The commonwealth rested its case around noon, and when court resumed at 1:15 p.m., Judge Russell kept the jury out of the courtroom and questioned Bonetsky, asking if he was making the decision not to testify on his own or was he asked or coerced by anyone. He assured the court it was his decision not to testify.
The commonwealth presented four witnesses.
The final one was Bonetsky's wife, Angelic Bonetsky. She was very defensive and evasive in her answers to most of the questions put by Assistant District Attorney Robert E. Matta. She did admit having a "slight" argument. It happened while she was bringing in boxes of personal property as they were moving into the home in Coaldale. She claimed the noise from dropping the box woke up her husband who was sleeping and left the house.
She testified she was in front of the house unloading another box to take into the house, when she was struck and the next thing she knew she was on the ground. She spent five days in a hospital and later used a walker and crutches, but now is walking normally.
Her responses to further questions were, "I don't know what happened. I was knocked to the ground. I want to put all this behind me."
At one point Matta asked permission from the court to treat her as a hostile witness, but an objection was raised by the husband's attorney, Christopher Riedlinger, followed a sidebar meeting with the judge and Matta did not further pursue his request.
Riedlinger asked her, "Wasn't this an accident?" and she responded, "Yes," but when Matta objected, Riedlinger withdrew the question and the jury was told to disregard the answer.
Angelic Bonetsky arrived at the courthouse with her husband, however, she was seated with other commonwealth witnesses during the trial. After she testified she went and sat near her husband and held his hand during the period the attorneys were making their closing arguments to the jury. Her actions were in full view of the jury.
The commonwealth's case rested on testimony of the investigating police officer, Scott Cramer, Coaldale police, and two eye witnesses.
Cramer performed a thorough investigation after being called to the scene. Cramer testified Bonetsky told him that loose objects on the floor of the truck stuck under the gas and brake pedals, but his examination showed the objects he found on the floor were too large to fit under the gas or brake pedals. Also the truck was traveling uphill on Fourth Street and the length of skid marks showed it exceeded the 25 miles-per-hour speed limit. Cramer said he found Angelic Bonetsky lying on the street between her husband's truck and the truck parked from which she was unloading, and she was moaning and groaning. He said medical help arrived shortly.
Leslie Dundore, who resides at 265 Fourth St., across the street from the Bonetsky residence, testified she could hear arguments in the house. A short time later as she walked down to the corner of High Street, Bonetsky's truck pulled to a stop sign and he motioned for her to cross. She said after she crossed the street she heard the truck accelerate and shortly heard a cash and screams. She ran to the scene and came upon Mrs. Bonetsky lying on the street and she held her head in her lap until medics arrived. She said Mrs. Bonetsky was in a lot of pain.
The other eye witness was Lauren Ritchie, a friend of Mrs. Bonetsky who was helping her move to the new home. She described the husband as waking up, getting into an argument with his wife, and then went out and drove off in his pickup truck. She said he drove around the block and she saw him driving up Fourth Street, heard the brakes lock followed by tires screeching and saw Angelic fall to the ground.
"I believe he drove at her but I don't think he intended to hurt her," she testified.
It took the jury only 10 minutes to reach its verdict.