A Luzerne County man was sentenced to serve a total of 10-and-a-half to 21 years in state prison on Friday after pleading guilty to his part in an assault incident in which the victim was stabbed multiple times.
Kevin Marshal Brandwein, 24, of Wilkes-Barre, was sentenced to the long prison term by Judge Steven R. Serfass after entering guilty pleas in three pending cases. He pleaded to one count each of aggravated assault, simple assault, criminal conspiracy-aggravated assault, and aggravated harassment by a prisoner. All but the simple assault counts are felonies.
Brandwein admitted to his part to an incident on Oct. 20, 2012, at 115 E. Snyder Ave., in Lansford. He was charged in the beating and stabbing of Christopher Herman, 28, of that address.
Also charged with Brandwein were Jennifer Catherine Steigerwalt, 34, of that address and identified as the girlfriend of the victim; Steve Allen Walck, 26, and Raymond Ziegenfuss III, 17 at the time, both of Lansford. The three co-defendants were charged with similar charges as Brandwein. Although a juvenile at the time, Ziegenfuss is being charged as an adult. All three have their cases pending in the county court.
State police at Lehighton, who filed the charges and were assisted by borough police, alleged that the four met at another residence and planned the assault. Steigerwalt wanted Herman killed, police allege, and was reportedly romantically involved with Brandwein.
Police said the assailants entered the house and found Herman in an upstairs bedroom. He was assaulted in the bedroom and then carried by Brandwein to the basement and tied up. That was where he was stabbed multiple times. Herman managed to escape, and ran to the American Legion where he was let in and police were called.
Brandwein also admitted assaulting Herman on Oct. 6 during an altercation along E. Snyder Ave.
Brandwein also admitted an assault at the county prison on March 29, when he sprayed fellow inmate, Sean McFadden, with urine, while the latter was in his jail cell.
Brandwein told Serfass he did not assault Herman while he was in the basement but did strike him in the bedroom.
He told the court, "I need to learn from my stupidity. I do follow people who ask me to do something." A felon, Brandwein also claimed that if it wasn't for him, Herman would not be alive today. He said his actions in the basement saved Herman.
District Attorney Gary F. Dobias took issue with that claim.
"I believe the defendant is a dangerous individual and a threat to society," he said.
Dobias said Brandwein was a menace to the community.
"This was a planned attack," he said.
Dobias also said he had to recognize the strength and courage Herman had shown since the incident, considering what he went through.
Herman was present for the proceeding, but Dobias said he did not wish to make a statement.
"It's remarkable to the court that you say you did everything to prevent this." Serfass said. "This was a brutal attack and you are a danger to the community."
Serfass added, "There is a need to put you in a state prison and away from the public."
He imposed 117 to 234 months on the aggravated assault and conspiracy count, and nine to 18 months on the simple assault, with terms running consecutively. On the prison incident, he sentenced Brandwein to serve 27 to 54 months in a state prison, concurrent to the other charges.
Brandwein was also ordered to have no contact with the victim, and supply a DNA sample. He must also pay court costs, which average about $1,000, and was given a total of 652 days credit for time spent in jail to date.