4 face trial in prison fight
Four prisoners at the Carbon County Correctional Facility who were allegedly involved in a "large fight" there on April 7 will have to stand trial in Carbon County Court on charges stemming from the incident.
A correctional officer was injured during the melee.
The defendants are:
• Joshua Michael Strohl, 24, of Jim Thorpe, who is free on $50,000 unsecured bail.
• Maurice Jamal Hampton, 21, of Philadelphia, who is in prison in lieu of $50,000 bail.
• Robert W. Monroe Jr., 52, of Albrightsville, who is in prison in lieu of $75,000 bail.
• Scott Thomas Heffelfinger, 25, of Lehighton, who is in prison in lieu of $100,000 bail.
All have been charged with simple assault, obstructing administration of law or other governmental functions, failure of disorderly persons to disperse, and two counts of disorderly conduct.
All had been scheduled to have hearings before District Judge Casimir Kosciolek of Lansford.
Hampton and Strohl waived their hearings.
Hearings were held for Heffelfinger and Monroe.
Monroe opted to have his hearing even though he had no lawyer for the proceeding. Heffelfinger was represented by a public defender.
Monroe complained that he wanted a lawyer but was denied free legal assistance.
Testifying at the hearings were correctional officer Angela Demyanovich and deputy Warden Tim Fritz.
The testimony indicated that about 10 or 12 inmates were involved in the incident.
Demyanovich said the scene was "like a big bar fight."
She said Heffelfinger was being pummeled by Hampton.
The correctional officer said she sustained spinal cord injuries from the incident.
In her testimony, Demyanovich said, "There's been tension on the unit for a couple of weeks. The guys told me it was a racial issue."
Fritz said the unit where the fight occurred houses 23 inmates at capacity.
When asked if he wanted to testify, Monroe remarked, "I just want a lawyer."
Kosciolek told him he will be entitled to have a lawyer for the court trial.
A video of the fight was shown during the hearing. Afterward, Monroe said, "I wasn't engaged in none of that. I threw one punch. The reason I threw one punch is I was scared."