Northeastern superintendent facing trial in burglary, assault case
A Lancaster-area man said he feared for his life while being attacked by Northeastern School District Superintendent Shawn Minnich about two months ago in the home of Minnich's estranged wife.
Christopher Leh testified Wednesday at Minnich's preliminary hearing, after which all charges against the superintendent were forwarded to York County Court for trial.
Minnich, 44, of 30 Nursery Road in Conewago Township, remains free on $15,000 bail, charged with aggravated assault, burglary, making terroristic threats, simple assault, criminal trespass, reckless endangerment, criminal mischief and harassment.
The aggravated assault charge, which is a first-degree felony, and the misdemeanor terroristic threats charge were added to Minnich's case at the start of his hearing by senior deputy prosecutor Susan Emmons.
After the hearing, defense attorney Farley Holt said the new charges could result in Minnich losing his job as superintendent. As of right now, Minnich is still on the job, Holt confirmed.
Minnich maintains his innocence and is a great superintendent, according to Holt.
Pounding at door: Leh testified he was visiting Kathy Minnich and her two children at their Poplar Lane home in East Manchester Township the night of Dec. 4. He said Shawn Minnich never lived there.
The front doorbell rang about 9:30 p.m., but no one immediately answered the door, he said. About 15 seconds later the doorbell rang again, followed by pounding on the door, according to Leh.
Leh said he, Kathy Minnich and the kids hid in a back bedroom. That's when Shawn Minnich started pounding "very loudly" on the sliding-glass door at the back of the house, yelling and making threats, Leh said.
"Shawn was still pounding and screaming, and the back door blew out," Leh said. Emmons confimed one of the glass doors on the double-paned sliding door shattered, but not both.
Shawn Minnich then kicked in the front door, threw Kathy Minnich against a wall and came after Leh, who was on the phone with 911, according to Leh.
"He ran full force at me and knocked the glasses off my face and the phone from my hand," Leh testified, adding Shawn Minnich told him, "I'm going to f—ing kill you."
'I'm going to die': Leh said he used his right arm to try to keep Shawn Minnich at bay, adding that Minnich repeatedly asked Leh to shoot him.
"He was trying to punch me. ... He was attacking me," Leh said. "He had me up against the wall. ... He (was) squeezing my throat with his hand. ... At that point I thought, 'Oh my God, I'm going to die.'"
Instead, neighbor Vada Fink — facilities manager for the York County Judicial Center — interceded, according to Leh.
"He just grabbed Shawn ... and dropped him to the ground," Leh testified.
Fink waited outside Wednesday's hearing but was not called to testify.
He told The York Dispatch he saw someone at Kathy Minnich's place and went to investigate when he "heard a woman and a child screaming."
Fink said he simply reacted to the situation.
Needs surgery: Leh testified the soft tissue around the socket of his right shoulder was completely torn and he must have surgery that will leave him with nine pins in his shoulder. Full recovery is expected to take between four and nine months, he said.
Leh also suffered other injuries, including bruising "all up and down my arm" from Shawn Minnich punching and hitting it.
Also testifying Wednesday was Northeastern Regional Police Sgt. Arthur Archambeault, who responded to the 911 call that night and arrested Shawn Minnich, who at the time was still being held down by Fink.
"He said he knew what he did was wrong," and didn't know why he did it Archambeault said of the superintendent.
"He was upset, he was crying, he was angry," the sergeant said. "I saw just about every emotion from (him) that night."
Minnich's formal arraignment in York County Court is scheduled for March 11.
— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at email@example.com.