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Carbon man who threatened family members, resisted police, pleads

Published April 09. 2019 12:34PM

A Carbon County man who threatened his wife and daughter, then struggled with police in resisting arrest, pleaded guilty on Monday morning in the county court and was sentenced to a time-served prison term.

Keith S. McFarland, 65, of Palmerton, pleaded to two counts of terroristic threats involving his wife and daughter, and one count of resisting arrest involving Lehighton police. A charge of aggravated assault was dropped in a plea bargain with the district attorney’s office.

According to the affidavit of probable cause filed by patrolman Robert DeFuso at 7:15 p.m. Nov. 3, 2018, DeFuso was dispatched to the second floor of the 100 block of South Street. The victims reported their husband and father was heading to the address, armed with a pistol and threatening their lives.

DeFuso and officer Gabe Szozda spoke with the victims, who said McFarland left a voicemail message to his daughter, stating, “All’s I want to do is talk to your mom. I’m coming over there and I got a .357 with me. Whole lot of people are going to die tonight.”

As DeFuso was gathering information, he could hear a person, later identified as McFarland, banging loudly on the door to that apartment on the lower level.

When McFarland’s wife heard the banging, her voice trembled with fear, stating, “It’s him. He’s here.”

The two officers then went downstairs to the front of the building.

Once outside and on the sidewalk, DeFuso observed McFarland standing at the door to the lower apartment.

Holding him at gunpoint, DeFuso ordered McFarland to raise and show him his hands.

McFarland only raised and showed him his right hand and held his left hand at his side.

DeFuso repeatedly told McFarland to show him his hand, but he refused.

While ordering McFarland to show him his hands, DeFuso saw McFarland holding a pistol that was contained in a brown leather holster.

DeFuso repeatedly ordered McFarland to drop the pistol, however, he refused and wouldn’t comply with DeFuso’s verbal commands.

DeFuso repeatedly yelled for McFarland to drop the pistol, but he refused.

As Szozda and DeFuso advanced toward McFarland, while providing verbal commands to drop the pistol, officers were able to gain a tactical advantage on McFarland.

Szozda was able to take control of the pistol as DeFuso struck McFarland in the face and then pulled him onto the ground.

Once on the ground, officers ordered McFarland to put his hands behind his back multiple times, but he refused to do so.

Force had to be used to gain control of McFarland’s hands and put him into handcuffs.

The pistol was a .357 revolver and was loaded with five live rounds and one spent shell casing.

DeFuso was in fear of his and officer Szozda’s lives, as McFarland wouldn’t drop the pistol.

McFarland uttered at the scene that he only wanted his wife to come home, and he refused to talk to police after being advised of his rights.

Defense counsel, attorney Matthew J. Mottola, of the public defender’s office, said McFarland’s actions that day were “out of character” for him. He said his only prior contacts with law enforcement were in 1994. He also said McFarland was intoxicated at the time. He said he has issues with alcohol but is addressing it.

Mottola said McFarland and his wife were attempting to save their marriage, but his daughter wants a no-contact provision in any sentence imposed by the court.

Serfass sentenced McFarland to time-served (136 days) to one day less 24 months in prison on the threat charges and ordered he get a drug and alcohol evaluation and follow any recommendation for treatment, zero tolerance for drug or alcohol use, have no contact with his daughter and render a total of 300 hours of community service. On the resisting arrest count he was placed on probation for 24 months, consecutive to the threats charges. He must also pay court costs of about $1,000 and a $50 per month supervision fee while on parole and probation.

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