Eichenlaub asks judge to throw out conviction

The defense said that former Altoona police officer Duane “D.J.” Eichenlaub, 30, did not act with intent to harm an older man during a 2010 bar brawl and has asked a Blair County judge to toss out his conviction for aggravated assault.

Eichenlaub is due to report Friday to the Blair County Prison to begin serving an 11- to 23-month prison sentence for the assault three years ago of Earl P. Eshelman at an Altoona bar.

The former officer was also sentenced for simple assault of another man and for attempting to have fellow Altoona police officers cover up the fight, which occurred in the men’s restroom.

One of Eichenlaub’s attorneys, Theodore C. Tanski of Harrisburg, on Tuesday filed an appeal in the Blair County Prothonotary’s Office focusing on the most serious of the offenses: aggravated assault.

The appeal stated that Eichenlaub and another former officer, Eric Kriner, were pummeling Herman “Bo” Lardieri after he allegedly sexually assaulted Eichenlaub’s wife while in the bar area.

Eshelman, who was in the restroom, attempted to break up the fight and grabbed Eichenlaub to pull him off of Lardieri. It’s then that Eichenlaub turned and punched Eshelman several times in the face, inflicting serious injuries to an eye and his head.

The defense said Eichenlaub in going after Eshelman was only acting in accordance with his police and Army training and did not have the intent – or a guilty mind – to inflict harm on Eshelman.

During Eichenlaub’s January trial, it was contended his attack on the 60-year-old was in self-defense because Eshelman had grabbed him around the neck. Eshelman said he grabbed Eichenlaub around the middle.

The filing of the petition Tuesday in Blair County is the first step in the appeal process.

Trial judge Timothy M. Sullivan will review the argument, and if he refuses to overturn the aggravated assault verdict, it will proceed to the Pennsylvania Superior Court for review.

Sullivan will be required to state reasons if he rejects the defense argument.

Eichenlaub’s attorneys last week asked that he be freed on unsecured bail pending the outcome of the appeal, but the judge refused.

The prosecution, led by Deputy Attorney General Christopher Jones, is appealing Eichenlaub’s sentence because it was below the state’s standard guidelines for aggravated assault.