York man retaliated against prosecution witness
A York criminal defendant who physically attacked a prosecution witness against him has pleaded guilty to retaliating against a witness.
After leaving Jansen Nelson with cuts, bruises and abrasions to his face, arms, elbows and feet, Rashawn Anthony Woodard and an alleged accomplice yelled, "That's what you get for being a rat" and "You had this coming to you," court documents state.
According to West Manchester Township Police, Nelson testified against Woodard in a theft case in which Woodard and others were accused of stealing a friend's debit card from her township home in October 2014. They used it to buy $639 worth of merchandise from the West Manchester Township Walmart, police said, and also took her car without her permission.
On April 5, Nelson and his little brother were playing basketball at Sunset Lane Park when they saw Jonathan Maldonado, a friend of Woodard's, according to court documents.
Maldonado got on his cellphone and a short time later Woodard showed up at the park, police said.
Maldonado punched Nelson in the back of his head while Nelson's back was turned and pulled him to the ground, according to court documents.
Punched: Woodard then climbed atop Nelson and punched him in the face repeatedly, police said.
Nelson managed to stand up and get away from the men, at which point he asked Maldonado if he was "done with him" or if he still wanted to fight; Maldonado indicated he wanted to fight, documents allege.
Nelson and Maldonado "latched onto each other and ended up falling to the ground" and rolling down a grassy hill, documents state. That's when an unidentified person punched Nelson in the face, documents state.
Nelson got up again and started walking home, with Maldonado and Woodard shouting at him, police said. Nelson told police that "all of their comments revolved around him testifying against Woodard," according to documents.
A witness took cellphone video of the unprovoked attack, police said.
Guilty pleas: Woodard, 23, of 636 S. Queen St., pleaded guilty Thursday in York County Court to the felonies of retaliating against a witness and conspiracy to commit that offense. He was sentenced to 193 days to 23 months in prison and ordered released forthwith from York County Prison, according to court records.
His plea agreement forbids him to have any contact with Nelson, records state. Charges of simple assault, harassment and disorderly conduct were dismissed.
Also Thursday, Woodard pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit theft and conspiracy to commit access device fraud in his theft case, court records state. He was sentenced to 12 months of probation.
Maldonado, 20, of York, has a pretrial conference scheduled in his case for Dec. 16, court records state.
Public defender Mike Rutt, who represented Woodard, did not return a phone message seeking comment. District Attorney Tom Kearney was unavailable for comment Friday, according to his office spokesman.
— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at email@example.com.