Last week, I posted a blog about status-based aggravated assaults, and this week's news provides a brazen example of this offense. Andre Staton was convicted by a Blair County jury in 2005, for the murder of his girlfriend, and then sentenced to death. Tim Burns was the tenth attorney to represent Staton, but he will not be the last. When Attorney Burns agreed with Judge Elizabeth Doyle that Staton should not be permitted to represent himself during a May 15, 2013, court proceeding, an enraged Staton swung his handcuffed arms like a baseball bat, striking Burns in the head and knocking him out. Burns continues to experience complications from the attack. Because Burns was a court-appointed attorney, he is the functional equivalent of a public defender, thus making this a status based aggravated assault, however, the injuries themselves might make this an aggravated assault. Of course, any discussion of what to charge Staton with is academic, as it is hard to inflict any meaningful punishment upon a death row inmate.
Penn State students have a long tradition of daytime parties on the first warm Saturday of spring, but such a party last Saturday at Penn State Altoona has led to felony riot charges being filed against 12 students, after Logan Township Police claim the party got out of hand. Police estimate that between 800 to 1,000 people were partying in the parking lot of Nittany Pointe when they arrived to break it up. Angry partiers threw bottles at the police, but no charges against the bottle throwers have been filed yet. Should these people be identified, they can expect to be charged with propulsion of missile, simple assault and aggravated assault. Because a thrown bottle can be a deadly weapon, their sentences would be more severe than usual, should they be convicted.