A wheelchair-bound man who fired a gun at two teens in a swimming pool last summer will spend up to four years in a state prison.
Lawrence County sheriff deputies wheeled Fred Hess, 55, of 410 Epworth Street into a Lawrence County courtroom in handcuffs Wednesday, where he pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated assault. He had been housed in the state correctional institution in Albion, where he was transferred after his arrest.
Hess was accused of firing black powder pistol at two boys who were swimming in a neighbor's pool and making noise on June 17, 2019. The New Castle police report said that he had complained to the teens about the noise and threatened to shoot them if they didn't quiet down. He then got a gun and carried out his threat, according to a criminal complaint filed with his charges.
Common Pleas Judge J. Craig Cox on Wednesday accepted a guilty plea to one count of aggravated assault, and sentenced Hess to two to five years in a state correctional institution. He was given credit for 372 days that he already has served in jail. He was ordered to have no contact with the victims, by phone, in person or through social media.
The police in investigating the case confiscated the gun, and Cox in his ruling stipulated that the gun must be forfeited and destroyed. Hess also is ordered to provide a DNA sample.
Assistant district attorney Jonathan Miller, who was prosecuting the case, said that the victims were notified of the plea and they did not submit an impact statement or contest it.
"Thankfully, nobody was harmed," he said, adding, "I think this (plea) is a resolution that addresses the conduct, with a state sentence."
Hess initially was charged with two counts each of criminal attempt at homcide, aggravated assault and recklessly endangering other persons and one count each of carrying a gun without a license and illegal possession of a firearm. With the exception of one aggravated assault charge that was his guilty plea, the other charges all were dismissed as part of the plea agreement.
Hess was represented in court by defense attorney Stephen D. Colafella of Beaver County.