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NEW CASTLE Charges dropped in chain saw attack



Published: Sat, June 9, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



The victim refused to testify, saying the fight was mutual.

By LAURE CIOFFI

VINDICATOR NEW CASTLE BUREAU

NEW CASTLE, Pa. -- Prosecutors say they had no choice but to drop attempted homicide charges against a man accused of attacking his neighbor with a chain saw.

The victim and his wife, the only witness, refused to testify, said Matthew Mangino, Lawrence County district attorney.

"They came to the district attorney's office a couple of times and said they won't testify. We obviously are not satisfied because of the seriousness of this case," Mangino said.

Christopher Shutack, 25, of Haggerty Road, New Galilee, faced up to 40 years in prison on charges of criminal attempt to commit homicide, aggravated assault, terroristic threats, recklessly endangering another person, simple assault and harassment.

Shutack now faces a maximum penalty of one year after pleading guilty to simple assault.

He will likely be sentenced July 23 to time served in the Lawrence County Jail, where he has been since the Jan. 7 attack.

What happened: Police say Shutack cut his neighbor Joseph Cox with a chain saw after a day of drinking and fist-fighting.

Shutack's attorney, Stephen Delpero, says his client isn't the only one to blame.

"Mr. Cox put 29 stitches in my client's head with a baseball bat, but there are no charges pending against him. It seems, whoever calls the police first is the victim and the other person is charged," he said.

During Shutack's February preliminary hearing, Cox testified that the two were returning home from a bar when Shutack threatened to kill Cox and his family.

The situation escalated throughout the day until Cox ended up with cut tendons on his right hand and arm that required surgery.

Cox told Judge Ralph D. Pratt in common pleas court he didn't want to testify against his neighbor and the fight was mutual.

"They were both intoxicated. They got in an argument, and there was substantial question about who went after who first," Delpero said.

cioffi@vindy.com




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