Suspended Northeastern superintendent closer to trial
- Shawn Minnich is accused of bursting into his estranged wife's home and assaulting her boyfriend.
- He was suspended as Northeastern School District's superintendent after his state certification was suspended.
- His attorney is trying to get the sole felony charge, aggravated assault, dismissed for lack of evidence.
The criminal attorney for Northeastern School District's suspended superintendent said he will ask a judge to throw out the only felony charge lodged against Shawn Minnich — aggravated assault.
Minnich, 44, of Nursery Road in Conewago Township, was in York County Court on Thursday for a pretrial conference on his domestic-related assault case, where senior deputy prosecutor Susan Emmons told the presiding judge, "This matter is going to be tried at some point."
Defense attorney Farley Holt later said Emmons has not extended a plea offer in the case but said he has floated an offer to her.
"He was willing to plead to most of the charges ... to resolve the matter," Holt said of his client.
Suspended: Minnich was officially suspended without pay by the Northeastern school board during an emotional June 2 board meeting. Some members made it clear they didn't want to suspend him but had no choice because the state Department of Education's Standards and Practices Commission suspended his state teaching certificate.
The commission voted to suspend Minnich's certification in May because he is charged with the felony offense of aggravated assault.
Minnich is accused of bursting into the East Manchester Township home of his estranged wife, Kathy Minnich, and physically assaulting her boyfriend, Christopher Leh, on Dec. 4. He's also accused of threatening to kill the man, Northeastern Regional Police have said.
Minnich remains free on bail, charged with aggravated assault, burglary, making terroristic threats, simple assault, criminal trespass, reckless endangerment, criminal mischief and harassment.
Motion pending: In court Thursday, Holt told presiding Common Pleas Judge Michael E. Bortner that he intends to file a motion arguing the aggravated assault charge should be dismissed for lack of evidence.
At Minnich's preliminary hearing in February, Leh testified the soft tissue around the socket of his shoulder was completely torn during the assault and that he needed surgery to put nine pins in his shoulder. Leh testified he also suffered other injuries, including bruising on his arm, from Minnich punching and hitting it.
But Holt said Leh's medical reports appear to indicate the shoulder injury preceded the assault. And even if it didn't, Holt said, "I'm not convinced having a torn labrum constitutes aggravated assault."
Adverse drug reaction? Holt also said he's retained Maryland-based psychiatrist Dr. Neil Blumberg to determine if Minnich was suffering an adverse reaction to a prescription drug that might have contributed to the confrontation.
"There may be some evidence to show that Dr. Minnich's mental capacity may have been diminished (that day) as a result of some prescribed medication he was on," the attorney said.
Judge Bortner set Minnich's next pretrial conference for 1:30 p.m. Aug. 18.
Minnich maintains his innocence and is a great superintendent, Holt has said.
The Northeastern school board and its solicitor, attorney Greg Gettle Sr., have repeatedly refused comment to The York Dispatch about the superintendent's criminal case or its ramifications.
— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at email@example.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.