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Ready for trial, man admits assaulting his stepson

Published October 02. 2019 01:05PM

A prospective jury panel was assembled in courtroom one of the courthouse in Jim Thorpe, ready for the selection process for a Palmerton man charged with assaulting his stepson. Instead, the defendant decided to enter into a plea bargain with the district attorney’s office and is now facing a prison term.

Christopher M. Schaeffer, 46, was scheduled to pick a jury Monday but decided to accept a plea offer and entered a guilty plea to one count of simple assault by physical menace. In exchange for the plea, the DA agreed to drop a charge of strangulation.

Schaeffer was arrested by Palmerton police for an incident on March 28, 2018.

According to the affidavit of probable cause filed by then Sgt. Chris Ritter of the borough police department:

At 7:20 p.m., Ritter was dispatched to a home in the 100 block of Avenue A for a domestic disturbance said to involve a stepfather assaulting his stepson.

Upon arrival, Ritter spoke with the victim, his brother and their mother, who all explained that the stepfather had been in the living room yelling at the mother’s daughter when the stepson told Schaeffer to “shut up.”

Schaeffer responded by grabbing the victim by the throat and pinning him against the wall, making him unable to breathe or speak.

The mother jumped in and pushed Schaeffer away from her son, which in turn led to a struggle between the mother and Schaeffer, in which the victim’s brother intervened to defend his mother.

Schaeffer then fled the home.

The victim was observed to have red marks and scratches on his neck that were consistent with a hand and fingernails.

President Judge Roger N. Nanovic II, who accepted the plea, told Schaeffer, under state sentencing guidelines, he faces a minimum prison term of between three to 12 months up to two years maximum.

At the proceeding, Schaeffer also pleaded to one count of possession of drug paraphernalia. When police were taking him into custody for the incident, they found drug paraphernalia on him.

Nanovic deferred sentencing so Schaeffer can apply for placement in the county’s Intermediate Punishment Program - house arrest.

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