Local wrestling champion Marsteller avoids prison
Chance Marsteller, Kennard-Dale's four-time PIAA wrestling champion, has avoided both prison and any felony convictions for an August incident at Lock Haven University during which he exposed himself in public and attacked the officers who arrested him.
Chandler Shane "Chance" Marsteller, 21, of Hopewell Township, was sentenced to seven years of probation and was ordered to perform 350 hours of community service and pay a $1,000 fine, according to his Williamsport-based defense attorney, Ryan Gardner. He also must report to his probation officer twice a week and submit to drug and alcohol testing.
Presiding Clinton County Common Pleas Judge Michael Salisbury added a condition to the negotiated plea agreement between the prosecution and defense — a curfew from 8 p.m. until 6 a.m., with exceptions for work, academics and athletics, Gardner said.
Marsteller must send letters of apology to his victims, except for Lock Haven City Police Cpl. Bryan Burger, to whom Marsteller apologized in court Monday in a lengthy statement, his attorney said.
Marsteller pleaded guilty Jan. 23 to six counts of simple assault and one count of open lewdness, according to court records. In exchange for his plea, charges including aggravated assault were dismissed.
Apologized, thanked cop: In that statement, the wrestler noted that his actions that night weren't indicative of his true character, according to Gardner.
"He was incredibly apologetic," Gardner said and "was very humbled and appalled by his actions" after watching a video of the incident recorded by an in-car police dashboard camera, the attorney said.
Marsteller thanked Burger for arresting him "and bringing him under control that night," Gardner said. "It was an eye-opener."
Marsteller indicated in his statement that "he will take the opportunity from this point forward to show Officer Burger that the person he encountered that night is really not who Chance is," the attorney said, adding Marsteller is moving forward.
"He's not done — not as a student, (not) as an athlete," Gardner said.
The attorney said prosecutors paid close attention to the facts of the case and came up with a resolution that encompassed both concern for the community as well as a path for Marsteller to move past his mistake.
District Attorney Dave Strouse said that while he's hopeful Marsteller will turn things around, his primary concern was for the victims and for the community at large, especially Burger, who "bore the brunt of Mr. Marsteller's antics" the night of the incident.
'Serious offenses': Strouse said both he and Burger felt the charges against Marsteller were serious offenses and should be treated seriously. However, Marsteller's young age, his lack of criminal history and his fairly extensive history of substance issues also had to be considered to determine a fair and just sentence, the district attorney said.
"This sentence worked to accomplish all the goals we had," Strouse said, including ensuring Marsteller now has a significant criminal record "that's not going away."
Since the incident, Marsteller has demonstrated at least the appearance of being committed to both sobriety and to getting his life in order, the district attorney said, including voluntarily getting treatment and enrolling in long-term treatment and counseling programs. His sentence requires he continue with counseling, Strouse said.
But the seven years of probation give prosecutors the ability to argue for prison if Marsteller doesn't comply with his court requirements or if he gets in trouble with the law again.
"We made it clear at time of sentencing that this is not a situation where if Mr. Marsteller continues to have issues while on supervision that he's going to get a slap on the wrist," Strouse said. "We're going to request he be sent to state prison (if that happens). We're going to be keeping close tabs on Mr. Marsteller."
Still a student: Marsteller is registered for classes with Lock Haven University but is not currently part of the wrestling team, according to Rodney Jenkins, vice president of university relations.
There is a disciplinary process Marsteller must complete to continue as a student there, Jenkins confirmed.
He did not rule out the possibility that Marsteller might be able to wrestle again for the university.
"I can't say no," Jenkins said. "Just like any other student, he can come back and try out. We would consider it."
But there would be another disciplinary process for Marsteller to complete — separate from the academic process — before he could be part of the team again, according to Jenkins.
At this point, Marsteller has not approached the university's athletics officials to indicate he wants to rejoin the team, Jenkins said.
A call to the Clinton County District Attorney's Office was not immediately returned Monday.
The background: The charges stemmed from an Aug. 25 incident that started at Lock Haven University, where Marsteller was due to start his first year after spending two years at Oklahoma State University, where he wrestled until he was suspended from the team.
About 11:30 p.m., police were called to Evergreen Commons, one of Lock Haven University's off-campus living sites for students, for reports that a naked man was banging on people's doors, according to Lock Haven City Police.
When officers got there, they found Marsteller clad only in a towel — which he then took off, exposing his genitals to police, according to police.
Officers arrested him and started driving him to the county jail, but while in the back of the police cruiser he slammed his head against the partition until officers pepper sprayed him to make him stop, police said.
Hospital tussle: Officers took Marsteller to Lock Haven Hospital, where he tried to lunge at a nurse, police said. Officers pinned the wrestler on the floor before he got to her, at which point he began biting, kicking at and trying to headbutt officers, according to police.
While officers had Marsteller prone on the floor, according to the report, he began banging his head on the floor, making his face and nose bleed. He also allegedly spat that blood into the face of one of the Lock Haven police officers, police said.
Two state troopers and a Lock Haven University police officer had to help restrain him, according to police; eventually, hospital staff was able to sedate him.
One of the Lock Haven police officers suffered minor injury, police have said.
About Marsteller: Wrestling for Kennard-Dale High School, Marsteller amassed a perfect 166-0 record and claimed four PIAA Class AAA championships during his record-breaking high school career.
He then verbally committed to wrestle for Penn State before changing his mind and joining the Oklahoma State program.
Two years ago, he red-shirted his first season with the Cowboys, compiling a 14-4 mark in open tournaments. Marsteller became OSU's primary starter at 157 pounds last season and compiled a 6-5 record, including one pin and two technical falls.
But then it was reported that Marsteller would have to sit out the rest of the season for a violation of team rules. The details of the violation were not released.
— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at email@example.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.