Eichenlaub motions denied
A Blair County judge has rejected a pair of motions – one from the defense and one from the prosecution – in the case of a former Altoona police officer convicted of aggravated assault in a bar brawl.
Deputy Attorney General Christopher Jones on Thursday filed a petition with Blair County Judge Timothy M. Sullivan asking him to reconsider the sentence of ex-officer Duane “D.J.” Eichenlaub because it was below the state’s sentencing guidelines.
Meanwhile, Eichenlaub’s attorney asked the judge to allow the former officer to remain out of jail on bail while his case is appealed to the Pennsylvania Superior Court.
Sullivan on May 28 sentenced Eichenlaub to 11-23 months in jail for the aggravated assault of a patron at an Altoona bar on Memorial Day 2010, noting that Eichenlaub, 30, had a good background, serving in the Army and on the city police force.
Jones said in his petition that the judge’s reasons for a relatively light sentence could not mitigate the serious injuries suffered by the victim of the assault, Earl P. Eshelman, 60, of East Freedom, who suffered head and eye injuries.
Testimony in Eichenlaub’s trial earlier this year showed that he struck Eshelman several times in the face as the older man attempted to break up a fight in the men’s restroom at the bar.
Eichenlaub was fighting with Herman “Bo” Lardieri of Altoona because Lardieri allegedly improperly touched Eichenlaub’s wife.
Ex-officer Eric Kriner also joined in the fray, and Eshelman, who was in the restroom, attempted to stop the beating of Lardieri, a man he knew.
Eichenlaub and Kriner attempted to have fellow officers cover up the incident, according to charges.
Sullivan also sentenced Eichenlaub to three years’ probation and 100 hours of community service.
State sentencing guidelines call for a 36-month minimum sentence for aggravated assault, Jones said in his petition.
Even the mitigated range of the guidelines recommends a 24-month minimum sentenced, Jones stated.
On Friday, Sullivan dismissed Jones’ petition, clearing the way for an appeal to the Superior Court.
The defense is also appealing.
Eichenlaub’s attorney, Timothy M. Barrouk, asked the judge to permit Eichenlaub to be released on unsecured bail until the state Superior Court has a chance to review the jury’s verdicts.
In his petition to Sullivan, Barrouk stated there were “several significant appellate issues” concerning whether the evidence presented at trial was enough to convict Eichenlaub.
During trial, Eichenlaub contended he was surprised when he was grabbed by the neck from behind by Eshelman and he thought he was on the verge of passing out. He said he hit Eshelman in self-defense.
Eshelman denied he ever grabbed Eichenlaub by the neck, stating he tried to pull him off of Lardieri by grabbing him around the waist.
Sullivan rejected the defense petition that would allow Eichenlaub to delay his prison sentence pending appeal.
Eichenlaub is to report to the Blair County Prison by 3 p.m. Friday.
Kriner was sentenced to four years probation for beating Lardieri but was not charged with assault on Eshelman.