The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

Local News

February 28, 2014

Coach attacker must get help after paroled

SHARON — The man who attacked his high school football coach on a Sunday afternoon last summer was returned to jail Thursday after hearing terms of his sentence. It includes an order to seek mental health treatment when he is paroled and keeps him under court supervision for 13 years.

Joseph K. Koscinski, 39, apologized and his attorney asked unsuccessfully for house arrest instead of more time in jail that was ordered by Mercer County Common Pleas President Judge Thomas R. Dobson.

“Joe has had serious mental health problems but before this he had no history of assaultive behavior and he has no prior criminal history,” said his attorney, Randall T. Hetrick of Mercer. “He was off his medications and said he was hearing voices.”

Jumping off a railroad trestle during his college years caused a closed head injury and Koscinski has had mental health problems since then, Hetrick said.

Koscinski, who had played football on Sharon teams in 1992-93, broke through the storm door of Jim Wildman’s home Aug. 11.

He attacked Wildman in the entry way and the struggle continued into the living room where Koscinski choked and punched Wildman and bit off part of his ear.

Wildman’s neighbors, David and Douglas LeMon, heard screaming and shouting and ran into the house to stop the attack. Sharon police Lt. Gerald Smith also ran over from his nearby home after hearing the noise and held Koscinski until other police arrived and he was taken into custody.

Koscinski has been held in Mercer County Jail since Aug. 16.

Arguing that “it’s hard to punish someone who is mentally ill,” Hetrick asked Dobson to opt for intensive mental health treatment and house arrest with electronic monitoring instead of continued incarceration.

Betty and Karol Koscinski, who were in court as they have been at every step of the prosecution of their son, “have done everything they could do to set up a program that meets his treatment needs,” Hetrick said. He added they have done all they could to help him since his injury.

“He will have people to monitor his medication and to see that he follows through with his counseling and treatment,” Hetrick said.

Koscinski apologized and expressed remorse when Dobson gave him an opportunity to speak.

“I apologize to Mr. Wildman and his family for the trouble they had because of what I did,” Koscinski said. “I realize how important it is to continue with the mental health treatment that is available to me.”

At a hearing in January, Koscinski entered an Alford plea to felony charges of aggravated assault and burglary. He told Dobson he didn’t remember much about the attack.

Treated by the court as a guilty plea, an Alford plea allows defendants to resolve charges against them if they believe a jury would find them guilty of a charge if jurors heard the evidence in the case.

Prosecutors dropped a second burglary count and charges of recklessly endangering another person and making terroristic threats as part of the plea bargain.

Hetrick and District Attorney Robert G. Kochems negotiated the deal for a “maximum county sentence,” to be followed with mental health treatment and 11 years of probation supervision. Koscinski could not live within 10 miles of Wildman under the agreement.

Dobson said he would consider all of those factors but would not be bound by the residence limitation at sentencing.

On the aggravated assault charge, Dobson sentenced Koscinski to 1 year less one day to 2 years less one day in jail. A maximum local sentence allows an inmate to serve time in Mercer County Jail instead of a state prison.

Dobson ordered $500 in restitution to Wildman and gave Koscinski credit for the 196 days he has served in jail since his arrest. Dobson said he could be paroled Aug. 14 after serving the minimum sentence.

Koscinski will be on probation for 11 years after his 2 years of jail incarceration and parole are completed, Dobson said.

On the burglary charge, Dobson ordered Koscinski to pay $2,005 restitution to Wildman’s insurance company and ordered jail and probation sentences to run concurrently with his sentence for assault.

He also ordered Koscinski to continue mental health treatment, emphasizing that he will be under court control long after he gets out of jail.

“If you go off your meds, I will have to put you in the penitentiary, Dobson said. “I have no other options.”

 

1
Text Only
Local News
  • News briefs from April 24, 2014

    April 24, 2014

  • Bus cameras will be listening, too

    Hermitage School District is taking advantage of a recently enacted exemption to the state’s wiretap law in allowing officials to turn on the audio recording capability on school bus and vehicle video cameras.

    April 24, 2014

  • Union, city OK 4-year contract

    Hermitage’s nonuniformed employees have a new four-year contract that gives them average pay hikes of 2.5 percent a year and the opportunity to live outside the city limits, while allowing administrators more flexibility in scheduling.

    April 24, 2014

  • 2 principals to be hired

    Sharpsville Area school directors needed a shove to make a decision but the board voted Tuesday to interview candidates and hire two principals for 2014-15.

    April 24, 2014

  • Prison term upheld for sex offender

    A sex offender challenging a 4- to 8-year prison sentence for a probation violation lost an appeal of that sentence.

    April 23, 2014

  • Man, 24, must register as sex offender for life

    The Ohio man who exposed himself to Sharon girls on their way to school last fall must register as a sexual offender for the rest of his life when he gets out of jail.

    April 23, 2014

  • Man deemed predator – for now

    A former Sharon man was sent to the state prison system Tuesday for corrupting the morals of a teenage girl, but the question of whether his penalties under Megan’s Law will stand could be subject to future legal proceedings.

    April 23, 2014

  • Not even waste will be wasted

    Tom Darby admits he wishes the startup of the anaerobic digestion process at the Hermitage Water Pollution Control Plant had moved along much faster.

    April 23, 2014

  • 3rd Earth Fest draws families to Penn State

    Penn State Shenango’s Earth Fest has become a spring tradition for area residents.
    Families poured into downtown Sharon for the campus’ third annual sustainability celebration.

    April 22, 2014

  • Amish clean Shenango River Volunteers protect Shenango River

    Shenango River Watchers has spent more than a decade working to clean up the Shenango and improve recreational access to its water and banks.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • For many, recycling’s become way of life

    When Pennsylvania mandated curbside recycling for its larger municipalities in 1998 – those with more than 5,000 people – there was grumbling about government interference in the lives of everyday people.

    April 22, 2014

  • Many items can’t be thrown away

    The computer screen in front of you isn’t likely to do you much harm, at least not until it’s tossed in a landfill where the lead-filled components start to leak and eventually find their way into your drinking water, according to Jerry Zona, director of the Lawrence-Mercer County Recycling/Solid Waste department.

    April 22, 2014

  • David Sykes' solar panels Earthworks

    While touring Germany last year, David Sykes spotted solar panels resting in a residential back yard.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Burned using Icy Hot, woman claims

    A Grove City woman has sued Chattem Inc. and Rite Aid of Pennsylvania Inc., alleging she suffered a second-degree chemical burn using one of Chattem’s Icy Hot pain relief products.

    April 21, 2014

  • Family outing Family friendly

    “We’re No. 5’’ isn’t a sports cheer you’ll hear any time soon.
    But considering the lumps the greater area has gotten over the years on economic rankings, it’s an outright victory.

    April 21, 2014 1 Photo