WILKES-BARRE – A courtroom brawl broke out in Central Court immediately after a district judge dismissed involuntary manslaughter charges against a Plains Township man Friday morning.
Kevin Partash Sr. and Dorothy Jean Gruver drive away from Central Court Friday morning.
Clark Van Orden PHOTOS/The Times Leader
Kevin Partash, 30, was cleared of causing the death of Robert Brady, 40, who fell and struck his head on the pavement after the two argued in the Pocono Trailer Court, Plains Township, on Dec. 23. Brady died the next day due to blunt force trauma to the head caused by the fall, forensic pathologist Dr. Gary Ross testified.
Seconds after District Judge James Tupper dismissed the case at 10:55 a.m., Brady’s wife, Ann Marie, stood up, yelled and charged at Partash, which erupted a fight between opposing families.
Partash’s fiancée, Dorothy Jean Gruver, intervened and was allegedly assaulted by Ann Marie Brady, state police at Wyoming said.
Luzerne County Detective Lt. Larry Fabian and state police Trooper Charles Prula jumped in to separate those fighting, wrestling Ann Marie and another woman across two rows of chairs and onto the floor, where they were handcuffed.
District Judge John Hasay, presiding over another case in a different courtroom, assisted in breaking up the scuffle.
Three Wilkes-Barre police officers rushed into the courtroom after a Central Court employee called 911.
“It was an emotional charged case,” Assistant District Attorney Jarrett Ferentino said. “We have someone who died as a result of unlawful actions. We had a family, a very large family, who was present in the courtroom and were told for the second time that they feel like the charge hasn’t been met.
“Their anger was directed at the defendant,” Ferentino added. “It was an emotional situation. Unfortunately, it got very emotional and quite physical in the courtroom.”
Ann Marie Brady, 40, who now resides on Stout Street, Pittston, was charged early Friday afternoon with simple assault, harassment and disorderly conduct. She was arraigned by Hasay and released after posting $5,000 bail.
The other woman who was handcuffed was released.
“I can understand the frustration, I can understand the anger but what occurred in there just cannot happen,” said Partash’s lawyer, Demetrius Fannick. “It just cannot be tolerated. A courtroom is a solemn place, it’s a safe place and for our system to run effectively, this type of conduct just cannot be tolerated. Unfortunately, I would hope it will be dealt with harshly.”
Fannick said Gruver sustained minor injuries during the fight.
“My client’s fiancée jumped in between and she got mostly the brunt of what was going on,” Fannick said. “She’s visibly shaken; there are a few minor injuries to her.”
It was the second time a district judge had dismissed the charges against Partash.
District Judge Martin Kane had dismissed the involuntary manslaughter charges after a preliminary hearing on April 9.
Prosecutors refiled the charge on May 5.
Investigators alleged Brady was walking his dog and holding a can of beer in the trailer court and confronted Partash about snow removal.
The two men exchanged words.
Partash left his driveway and grabbed Brady. He admitted during a police interview that he shoved Brady, let him go and turned to walk away when Brady fell straight back, striking his head on the pavement, according to testimony and arrest records.
Gruver, who testified on behalf of Partash, said Brady appeared intoxicated and was staggering as he walked.
Ross, the forensic pathologist, testified that Brady had a preexisting head injury due to a gunshot wound about 10 years ago. Ross further said that Brady had a blood alcohol level of .347 percent, more than four times the legal limit of 0.08 percent for an adult driver to be considered intoxicated. Brady was not driving.
“We know it’s a tough case, this is a very difficult situation,” Ferentino said. “A man was killed, we had information and a medical opinion he was killed by virtue of a homicide. It is our obligation to do the investigation and put our facts forward. We put every fact we had forward, but we respect the court’s decision.”
Ferentino said District Attorney Jacqueline Musto Carroll will review the case, adding that it’s unlikely the charges will be filed for a third time.
“I don’t want the decision to get lost in the events of what happened,” Fannick said. “This was the second time, the second dismissal. I hope this finally ends it. There’s no case here; this was a tragic accident, we had two judges that ruled that way.”
Edward Lewis, a Times Leader staff writer, may be reached at 829-7196.