'Hellraiser' gets prison time for attacking state trooper

Liz Evans Scolforo

A York heroin dealer known as “Hellraiser,” who was shot by a state police trooper he attacked inside a Hanover home, isn’t likely to rehabilitate himself if given a second chance, according to his sentencing judge.

Joshua Mosha Harding, known as "Hellraiser"

"He’s serious about his drug dealing and he’ll protect it in any way possible,” Common Pleas Judge Harry M. Ness said of Joshua Mosha Harding.

Deputy prosecutor Lewis Reagan said Harding “still doesn’t accept responsibility or show any remorse” for the September 2013 attack in which he sucker-punched Trooper James O’Shea, splitting his head open. O’Shea’s wound required staples to close, and he suffered memory loss, a split lip and a broken finger during the attack, Reagan has said.

There are two kinds of drug dealers, Reagan told the judge — the kind who are slaves to their addiction, and those who deal "for the sole purpose of making money off the misery of others."

Harding, 33, is the latter, according to the prosecutor.

"He doesn't care who gets hurt in the wake of his actions," Reagan said, noting Harding was dealing heroin while on probation for other crimes.

"It made no difference to him" that he was on probation, according to Reagan.

'That's who he is': He predicted Harding will begin committing crimes as soon as he's released from prison.

"That's who he is, that's what he does," the prosecutor said, adding Harding has lived up to his street name. His criminal history includes convictions for aggravated assault, drug dealing and being a felon in illegal possession of a firearm.

Defense attorney Clarence Allen argued his client deserved another chance.

"I think there's still hope for Mr. Harding," Allen said.

Shot by cop, 'Hellraiser' guilty of assault, drug dealing

But Ness wasn't swayed, and sentenced Harding to four to eight years in state prison.

The background: Jurors deliberated less than an hour March 15 before finding the York drug dealer guilty of one count each of aggravated assault, simple assault, drug dealing and escape.

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.

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 trial testimony.

O'Shea started to handcuff Harding to detain him, at least temporarily, when Harding punched the trooper in the head without warning, Reagan has said.

"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 was justified in shooting Harding.

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.

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.

Harding lost a lung because of the gunshot wound.

Police later found individual baggies of heroin inside Harding's coat, which was on a chair in the home, according to Reagan.

In court Friday, Allen said Harding and his family have thanked Kile for saving Harding's life.

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com.