Ickes found guilty of traffic violations

To Blair County District Attorney Richard A. Consiglio, the criminal charges of resisting arrest, harassment and numerous traffic violations against an elderly Bedford County man were not a “little deal.”

“This goes way beyond that,” said Consiglio.

A Blair County jury on Thursday found Don Ralph Ickes, 78, of Fishertown guilty of two misdemeanor charges stemming from his actions following a July 18, 2011, traffic stop.

Consiglio said Ickes was attempting to use religion to justify his violation of traffic laws and his refusal to cooperate with a state trooper after being stopped for speeding.

“You can’t have people decide what laws they want to obey,” said Consiglio, addressing a Blair County jury Thursday at the end of Ickes’ three-day trial in Judge Daniel J. Milliron’s courtroom.

“He wants to use religion as an excuse not to obey the law,” Consiglio said.

Assistant Public Defender Jason Imler, representing Ickes, did not argue religion to the jury but said Ickes was just an elderly, frightened man who thought police were going to harm him when he was stopped for traveling 70 mph in a 50 mph construction zone along I-99.

When Ickes was stopped by Trooper Thomas Laskey, he refused to give the officer a driver’s license or registration card, and he remained in his car, behind locked doors, until the trooper, with several other officers acting as backup, smashed the passenger’s side window and pulled Ickes, screaming and crying, from the vehicle.

It took a jury of five women and seven men more than five hours of deliberation Thursday before returning guilty verdicts against Ickes for resisting arrest on July 18, 2011, and the ensuing harassment of Laskey and his family by Ickes.

Ickes and his wife repeatedly called Laskey or his supervisor at state police headquarters in Hollidaysburg asking for the return of the Ickes’ family car, a Ford Escort.

He sent Laskey a bill of $30,000 for the car. He attempted to file criminal charges against the trooper. He even contacted Laskey’s mother.

After the jury returned the verdicts on the misdemeanor charges, Milliron found Ickes guilty of 14 traffic violations.

The judge imposed $1,200 in fines on the traffic violations and said he intends to formally sentence Ickes on Nov. 15 to three years’ probation on the resisting arrest and harassment charges.

He also ordered Ickes to have no contact with Laskey.

Asked for his comment after the case, Ickes recited Revelations 21:8: “But, the cowardly, the unbelievers, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice the magic arts, the idolaters and all liars – they will be consigned to the fiery lakes of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”

The Ickes case was “important to law enforcement. You can’t have people doing what this guy did,” Consiglio said.

All Ickes had to do was give the officer his cards. Instead he tied up five police officers for several hours when they could have been out protecting the public, Consiglio said.

Assistant District Attorney Derek Elensky said Laskey is to be commended for his professionalism the night of the arrest and for his professionalism in suffering through two years of harassment from Ickes.

When Laskey stopped Ickes for the speeding violation, the license plate on his car indicated that it had been issued by the Kingdom of God.

In verifying the plate, police uncovered a document in which Ickes renounced his citizenship “in this world” and pledged allegiance to the Kingdom of God.

The defense avoided the religious issue during its case, with Imler arguing that the evidence did not prove Ickes guilty of resisting arrest and harassment.

Imler said Ickes, when stopped by Laskey, had no legally required intent to resist arrest. He called the traffic stop a “scary situation.”

When the trooper broke Ickes’ passenger side window and entered the car, Ickes became “scared and frightened,” Imler said.

Officers were shouting at him, and “exploding glass” caused him concern, the defense attorney said.

The jury saw a dashboard video of the confrontation, and Imler said, “You see how fast this went from something simple to everybody being out of their minds.”

He asked the jury to remember Ickes’ screams as he was being taken from the car.

Ickes shed tears before the jury as his attorney reviewed the specifics of his arrest.

When his time came to address the jury, Consiglio said, “He [Ickes] doesn’t want to obey the law. … I submit to you he wanted to be obstinate.”

Mirror Staff Writer Phil Ray can be reached at 946-7468.