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Carbon County court

A Lehigh County man went on trial Tuesday in Carbon County court on charges stemming from a gun-pointing incident at a county resort.

Scott Timothy Watkins, 52, of New Tripoli, is facing charges of recklessly endangering another person and simple assault for an incident on May 14, 2016, at the Sunny Rest Lodge resort in Lower Towamensing Township. State police at Lehighton charged Watkins with putting a 40-caliber handgun to the left cheek of a security guard during an incident at his camper in the resort. Sunny Rest is a clothing optional resort.

Victim testifies

Christopher Wean, 34, of Lehighton, the alleged victim in the incident, testified he was working as a security guard at the resort on the day of the incident, which he said was open to members-only that day since it was considered the first day of the camping season.

He said he visited a party at the resort with fellow security officer Jason Terkan, of Bath, were he met the defendant and his wife, Lisa Watkins. Wean said he knew Scott Watkins because when he first started to work for the resort Watkins was working as a security guard and helped trained him.

Wean said as he and Terkan were ready to leave to make further rounds, Lisa Watkins asked them for a ride back to her camper, which was a short distance away. The two guards were making their turns in a golf cart.

At the campsite Lisa Watkins asked the two guards inside the camper and asked if they wanted anything to drink or eat.

Wean said they were only inside for a few minutes and then left the camper.

While standing outside, he saw Scott Watkins drive up in his vehicle, get out and walk inside the camper, not saying anything to Terkan or him.

Once Watkins was in the camper, Wean heard him yelling at his wife, but could not hear exactly what was being said. He said he was standing near a window looking into the camper when he saw Scott Watkins slap his wife at least three times in the face.

He then told Terkan what happened and asked what should they do. Terkan then knocked on the door and Scott Watkins pushed open the door.

As he came out of the camper he reached back behind him and pulled out a handgun and put it to Wean’s left cheek.

Thought he would shoot

Asked by Assistant District Attorney Cynthia Ann Dyrda Hatton if he felt threatened, Wean said, “I didn’t think I was going to make it out of there.”

He said he stood completely still, adding, “I thought he was going to shoot me.”

He said after about a minute Watkins dropped the gun to the side of him. Wean said he quickly got in the golf cart, backed up and headed toward the resort office, picking up Terkan, who had left the scene when he saw Watkins pulling out the gun.

He said Lisa Watkins came out of the camper after her husband had dropped the gun to his side, and she was also taken to the office.

Defense attorney Brian J. Collins questioned Wean extensively on a criminal arrest he had in 2003 for recklessly endangering and terroristic threats.

Wean also denied that he ever showed a gun to Watkins in the past when they worked together.

Terkan testified to the events in support of what Wean had said. He said when he saw Scott Watkins came out of the camper with a gun, he ran to the back of the cart.

He said when Scott Watkins arrived at the camper he seemed upset. He said when he knocked on the door after Wean said he saw the defendant striking his wife, Watkins began opening the door and said, “Are you serious?”

Troopers Michael R. Sofranko, the arresting officer, said he responded to the resort for a report of a gun incident. He said he spoke briefly to Wean and Lisa Watkins. He said he went to the camper with two other police officers, trooper Jonathan Lazarchick and officer Frank W. Buonaiuto of the Franklin Township police.

At the camper they saw Watkins standing with his hands raised above his head. When he asked about the gun, he said Watkins told him the gun was on a picnic table near the camper.

Buonaiuto retrieved the gun and “cleared” it. He said Buonaiuto found a round in the chamber but the gun clip was not in the gun.

Sofranko wrote in his report that Lisa Watkins, who was visibly upset, said there was an incident at the camper and that her husband was upset about something.

Sofranko said Scott Watkins said he felt threatened at the time of the incident but “didn’t elaborate.” He also said he felt the Watkinses were intoxicated at the time.

Watkins also denied striking his wife at any time. After that, Sofranko said Watkins asked for an attorney and the questioning stopped.

Buonaiuto and Lazorchick also testified briefly to their part in the investigation.

Denies speaking

Lisa Watkins was the first witness called by Collins.

She confirmed that she asked Wean and Terkan for a ride to her camper and said the two did come inside. She said as she was speaking with them she saw her husband arrive and said, “Here comes Scott.” She said the two guards “ran” out of the camper.

She said her husband was “very pleasant” when he arrived. She said while speaking with her husband in the camper, she tripped over something and fell and her husband helped her up. She denied that he ever struck her.

She also denied ever seeing her husband pull a gun.

She admitted having at least one drink but said she and her husband were not intoxicated.

Under questioning from Hatton, Lisa Watkins denied ever speaking to Sofranko that night. She said when Sofranko asked her about what happened, she said to him, “I’m not saying anything.” She said she refused to talk to the police because they were arresting her husband.

When asked by Hatton if Sofranko was lying in his report when he attributed comments to her, she said, “Yes, he’s lying.”

The trial was scheduled to resume at 9 a.m. today with Scott Watkins expected to testify. The jury panel of nine men and three women was picked on Monday.

Watkins was originally charged with one count of aggravated assault, two counts of simple assault and one count of recklessly endangering.

At a prior hearing, on motions filed by Collins, President Judge Roger N. Nanovic dismissed the aggravated assault and one count of simple assault.

Watkins was also charged with a summary offense of harassment, which Nanovic will rule on after the completion of the trial.