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Mumaw trial strategies emerge; defense attorney said he will testify

Published November 14. 2019 10:58AM

Is Eric Mumaw a jilted lover who crushed his romantic rival’s palate with a brass-knuckles-aided punch before shooting him in the chest?

Or is he a jilted lover who was tackled and beaten by his romantic rival, before he hit him with brass knuckles and shot him in the chest?

Mumaw, 32, Kline Township, is charged with shooting 27-year-old David D. Gombert, Beaver Meadows, at Mumaw’s residence on the morning of Nov. 1, 2016. According to testimony at previous hearings, hostile Facebook posts escalated a romantic rivalry between Mumaw and Gombert; the woman Gombert was dating was Mumaw’s former girlfriend.

Mumaw is charged with first- and third-degree murder, voluntary manslaughter, prohibited offensive weapons, possessing an instrument of crime, simple and aggravated assault, terroristic threats, recklessly endangering another person, abuse of a corpse and tampering with evidence. He has been held without bail in Schuylkill County prison.

After a day and a half selection process, a jury was chosen, with four alternates. Judge Charles Miller is presiding over the proceedings. Attorneys gave opening arguments Wednesday afternoon.

Prosecutor Mike Stine gave a timeline of events leading to the shooting of Gombert. Bad blood between the two men escalated after Gombert took a picture of Mumaw’s former girlfriend, posing with two wineglasses and giving the thumbs-up signal. After that, Stine said, “tough guy talk” happened between the two men.

Mumaw, working a 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. shift, texted phone messages to various people and made Facebook posts, making statements such as “I will kill him” and that he would “brass knuckle his face until you can’t tell what he looks like.”

Stine said that time stamps from information on Mumaw’s phone show that he took a picture of Gomberg’s body and didn’t call 911 until 3 minutes had passed. Stine said that Mumaw told Pennsylvania State Police, in describing why he took the picture of Gomberg’s body, that it was “like a trophy buck.”

Defense Attorney Andrew Katsock, of Wilkes-Barre, asked the jurors to keep an open mind and not prejudge as they listened to the prosecution’s case. He noted that each charge levied against Mumaw consists of several elements, and that each of the elements must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt.

Katsock rehashed the texting and messaging that took place between Mumaw and Gomberg but cast a different light on the content.

“They were threatening each other and said they were going to bring toys,” Katsock said, adding that the word toys was used as another word for guns. “But here’s a critical part of the case — Mr. Mumaw leaves work and he goes home — he makes the right choice, he goes home.”

“Mr. Gomberg has to come to Mr. Mumaw’s house — he makes the worst choice,” he added. “Why would he come to Mr. Mumaw’s house? Only one reason, to start a fight.”

“Mr. Mumaw will take the stand and proclaim his innocence, and tell you exactly what happened,” Katsock told the jury.

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