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Charges dropped for son, not dad, in Christmas tree farm death
Editor's note: This article was published in The York Dispatch on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2015.
Charges have been dropped against one of two seasonal workers — and amended against the other — allegedly involved in the death of a co-worker at a Christmas tree farm in Warrington Township last month.
Cecilio Felipe-Vicente, 24, had been charged with simple assault, reckless endangerment and harassment in the Sept. 19 death of 69-year-old Juan Pozar-Felipe.
On Monday, the York County District Attorney's Office withdrew those charges, according to court records.
Felipe-Vicente's father, Pedro Felipe-Nolazco, 39, remains charged with the same offenses and on Monday waived his right to a preliminary hearing.
Prior to waiving his case to York County Court for trial, prosecutors added a charge of involuntary manslaughter against Felipe-Nolazco, records state.
The offense is a first-degree misdemeanor, punishable by a maximum of five years in prison, according to defense attorney Ken Eckard, who represents both men.
"It's a tragic situation," Eckard said. "They've very hardworking people — and law-abiding people."
Legal visas: The father and son are seasonal workers here on legal work visas, according to Eckard, and are generally in the area from March to December.
They and the victim are from the same town in Mexico, located in the state of Michoacan, the attorney said.
The father and son also are related to victim Pozar-Felipe, according to Eckard, who said they referred to him as an uncle but that perhaps the family connection might not be quite that straightforward.
"It's premature for me to be speaking to the press, but we're hopeful for a resolution in the near future in respect to (Felipe-Nolazco's) charges," Eckard said. "I'm really not at liberty to discuss at this point what that likely resolution will be, but it will likely happen in the next two months."
He said Felipe-Nolazco's charges accuse him of gross negligence and "nothing intentional or malicious."
The York County District Attorney's Office declined comment on the case.
The case: Pozar-Felipe lived and worked at Strathmeyer Christmas Trees on Zeigler Road and was trying to break up a drunken fight between Felipe-Nolazco and Felipe-Vicente on Sept. 10 when he was pushed and fell, according to state police.
Police said Pozar-Felipe apparently lay on the ground all night long. He was found unresponsive the next morning near the front porch of the employee barracks and taken to York Hospital, where he died Sept. 19 of blunt-force head trauma, officials said.
A witness told them Pozar-Felipe tried to break up an alcohol-fueled fight between the father and son, charging documents state.
Felipe-Nolazco remains free on $25,000 bail. His formal court arraignment is scheduled for Dec. 4, court records state.
— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at firstname.lastname@example.org.