Shot by cop, 'Hellraiser' guilty of assault, drug dealing
Jurors deliberated less than an hour Tuesday before convicting a York drug dealer known as "Hellraiser," who was shot by state police during a chaotic attack on a trooper inside a Hanover home.
Joshua Mosha Harding, 33, was sent to York County Prison pending sentencing, which presiding Common Pleas Judge Harry Ness set for 9 a,m. April 29.
The jury found Harding guilty of one count each of aggravated assault, simple assault, drug dealing and escape. The assault convictions were for an attack on state police Trooper James O'Shea, whom Harding sucker-punched in the head, according to testimony.
"It split his head open," deputy prosecutor Lewis Reagan told jurors during his closing argument Tuesday morning.
O'Shea's wound required staples to close, and he suffered memory loss from the injury, Reagan said; the trooper also suffered a split lip and broken finger during the attack.
Jurors acquitted Harding of aggravated and simple assault charges for an alleged attack on Conewago Township (Adams County) Police Officer Matthew Kile, who Reagan said testified that Harding merely broke free of the officer and didn't punch or hit him.
What happened: About 6:30 p.m. Sept. 23, 2013, O'Shea and Kile — who at the time were members of the Adams County Drug Task Force — went to the East Middle Street home of Holly Urban and Joseph Weaver to arrest the couple on drug charges.
Harding was there and had just sold heroin to Urban, according to Urban's testimony Tuesday morning.
O'Shea started to handcuff Harding to detain him, at least temporarily, when Harding punched the trooper in the head without warning, Reagan told jurors during his closing argument.
"He panicked," Reagan said of Harding, and "chaos ensued."
'Things went flying': Urban has said Harding and the officers crashed into her kitchen table and that "things went flying," according to a report from York County District Attorney Tom Kearney, who determined O'Shea acted properly in shooting Harding.
O'Shea has said things went blurry after Harding punched him, and he can't remember everything that happened, according to the report.
Kile told investigators he saw Harding lunge at O'Shea and attack him, at which point Kile tackled Harding, the report states. But Harding broke free of Kile and pushed Kile away, which is when O'Shea shot Harding, the report states.
'Chaos': Reagan used the words "chaos" and "chaotic" a number of times during his closing argument to describe what happened that evening, as did Urban during her testimony.
O'Shea fired one shot at Harding, who suffered a sucking chest wound, according to the report. As O'Shea started making phone calls to summon help, Kile cut off Harding's shirt and used duct tape to try to close the wound, the report states.
Lung removed: Harding previously said in open court that he lost a lung because of the gunshot wound, a court official confirmed.
Police later found individual baggies of heroin inside a rice-filled plastic sandwich baggie in Harding's coat, which was on a chair in the home, according to Reagan. Drug dealers sometimes use rice to keep their product fresh, the prosecutor told jurors.
Defense attorney Clarence Allen argued to jurors during his closing argument that there was no evidence the coat belonged to Harding and therefore "you cannot determine who those drugs belonged to."
Jurors apparently disagreed, because they found Harding guilty of possessing heroin with the intent of selling it.
If the jacket fits: Just before closing arguments, Judge Ness made a quip about the defendant's jacket:
"Thank goodness Marcia Clark wasn't here today to make him try it on," the judge said. Ness was referring, of course, to the moment in O.J. Simpson's murder trial when Simpson struggled to slide his hand inside a bloody glove that ostensibly didn't fit him.
Reagan declined comment about the verdict through a DA's office spokesman, and Allen did not return a phone message seeking comment.
Urban has told police she allowed Harding to sell drugs from her home because she owed him money, according to Kearney's report.
Harding's criminal record in York County includes guilty pleas in 2005 to aggravated assault, fleeing police and being a convicted felon in illegal possession of a firearm. He also pleaded guilty in 2003 to a felony drug-dealing charge, records state.
— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at email@example.com.