Walnutport man pleads to simple assault in Thorpe shooting incident
A Walnutport man pleaded guilty on Friday morning in Carbon County court to one count of simple assault stemming from a shooting incident that occurred more than three years ago.
Thomas Henry Smith, 55, was charged by Jim Thorpe police for the incident that occurred on March 1, 2010, at the home of Jace J. Gill, of 11 Lehigh Gorge Drive, in the Leisureland section of the borough. In a plea bargain, two counts of aggravated assault and one count each of simple assault and recklessly endangering another person were dropped.
Smith was scheduled to go on trial on Monday. The case has a long history, as no less than 21 continuances have been filed in the case, most of them by the defense.
Judge Steven R. Serfass accepted the plea but deferred sentencing and ordered the adult probation office to prepare a presentence investigation report.
Assistant District Attorney William E. McDonald said the plea agreement was approved by the victim.
According to the police report Officer Michelangelo Bokeko was dispatched to Gill residence for a suspicious vehicle. While en route, Bokeko was informed that there was a male at the scene who had been shot. Upon arrival, Bokeko observed a male lying on the ground in front of the house at that address, and a female was applying pressure to his left thigh.
Bokeko also observed a male with a bloody nose standing nearby, and asked him what happened. The male, who was later identified as Smith, stated that he shot Gill in self-defense.
Smith stated that his girlfriend, Judith A. Gill, who was Jace Gill's wife at the time, were in the middle of a divorce, and was informed by her attorney that she could enter her house and retrieve her personal belongings along with her vehicle. Smith stated that he was attempting to get in the front door when Jace Gill came out of nowhere and began to attack him. Smith and Gill then engaged in a physical altercation which subsequently led to Smith shooting Gill in the legs at least twice. Gill was flown to Lehigh Valley Hospital, Salisbury Township in Salisbury Township. He has since recovered.
Smith was taken to Gnaden Huetten Memorial Hospital, Lehighton, for medical evaluation and then arrested.
According to the plea agreement, if it is accepted by the court, Smith will be sentenced to four to eight months in the county prison.