Magisterial District Judge James DiBenedetto refused to grant prosecutors a continuance of a preliminary hearing for Ohioville Mayor John Szatkiewicz today, saying prosecutors failed to provide evidence demonstrating why the alleged victim was not present in court.
Szatkiewicz was charged in August with harassment, disorderly conduct, simple assault, and obstruction of an emergency call after Ohioville Police say he assaulted Theresa Tice, his live-in girlfriend’s daughter. Police allege Szatkiewicz beat the woman’s head off of a doorjamb several times before placing one of his hands around her throat and another over her mouth and nose while telling her, “This is how I was trained to kill people.”
Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Popovich told Judge DiBenedetto that Tice was unavailable to testify in court today because she had been taken into emergency surgery, and asked the case be continued. Attorney Myron Sainovich, who is representing Szatkiewicz, objected to the continuance. DiBenedetto asked the prosecution if they had proof that Tice had been hospitalized, and then denied the request when they were unable to produce documentation. Judge DiBenedetto subsequently dismissed the criminal case against Mayor Szatkiewicz.
This was the first continuance request made by prosecutors in the case. A previous request for continuance made by Szatkiewicz’s defense attorney was granted on August 15th. First-time continuance requests by either side in a case are routinely granted for preliminary hearings held in Beaver County as a matter of regular business when defendants are not incarcerated.
Beaver County District Attorney Anthony Berosh issued a letter to Ohioville Police shortly after the hearing, instructing the department to refile the criminal charges against Mayor Szatkiewicz. So called “double jeopardy” does not attach to cases dismissed at the preliminary hearing level, which simply serves to determine if there is enough evidence for a case to proceed to trial.
Mayor Szatkiewicz is currently a named defendant in a lawsuit filed by Officer Beatty, who accuses the man of retaliating against him after he sparked a criminal investigation into the town’s police chief. Szatkiewicz previously filed a harassment complaint against the Beaver Countian with police, after this publication left a single voice mail message seeking comment for a story.