Man accused in West York tire iron beating faces trial
A York City man who police say "savagely beat" a man with a tire iron over the summer now faces trial in the court of common pleas.
The victim, 22-year-old Joshua Dunham, testified during Matthew Lynn Hughes' preliminary hearing that Hughes had struck him 30 to 40 times.
"When I got to the hospital, I couldn't speak at all," he said of his injuries.
District Judge Jennifer J.P. Clancy deemed there was enough evidence to hold all of Hughes' charges — attempted homicide, aggravated assault, burglary, simple assault and strangulation — for trial in county court.
Background: West York Police charged 29-year-old Hughes, of York City, in early July after he allegedly went into his ex's home in the 1800 block of West Philadelphia Street and assaulted Dunham after finding him in her bed.
At the time, police said he came to the home because he believed his ex had left him for another man.
Court documents allege that Hughes began fighting Dunham about 5:30 a.m. July 8 and later struck him with a tire iron. Police say Dunham tried running from him but was pushed down the stairs.
When Dunham got knives from the kitchen to defend himself, police allege Hughes hit him in the head with the tire iron again.
Dunham was found "severely battered and bloodied," according to court documents.
Testimony: During Wednesday's preliminary hearing, senior deputy prosecutor Jonathan Blake called only one witness, Dunham.
Dunham testified that Hughes, who had lived at his ex's home until a few weeks before the alleged assault, came in through a curtain in his ex's room and began talking to her.
He asked who Dunham was, and Hughes then grabbed Dunham, according to testimony. Dunham said he grabbed Hughes' ex's pepper spray and used it, hitting both himself and Hughes.
"We both got covered in it," he said.
He also claimed Hughes choked him. Dunham said he then reached for a tire iron, but Hughes got to it first.
"He kept hitting me with it," he said, adding that he was hit all over his body.
Dunham said he ran to the stairs but Hughes followed him and pushed him down the hardwood stairs.
Dunham said he ran to the kitchen to get steak knives and that was when Hughes left the home through the front door.
Dunham said he went outside with the knives and Hughes hit him with the tire iron again.
"He hit me again with the tire iron, and my head started dripping (blood) everywhere," he testified.
Dunham recalled Hughes saying "I'll f—ing kill you," once inside the home and again outside it.
Others who were in the house at the time were nowhere to be found during the altercation, he said.
"Everyone pretty much ran off or was hiding," he said.
Police have said in addition to Hughes' ex, there was a pregnant woman and a 2-week-old infant inside the home during the assault.
Dunham said after the incident he ran to a neighbor's home, and police and EMS arrived. Hughes said he was taken to York Hospital by ambulance and required stitches on his head. He was in the hospital for about a day, he testified.
Dunham said he had never met Hughes before the alleged assault but was familiar with him through Hughes' ex.
Self-defense? Hughes' Hershey-based defense attorney, Bryan Walk, argued to Clancy that the charge of attempted homicide should be dismissed.
Walk said that Dunham testified to approaching Hughes with the knife and the use of the tire iron could be seen as self-defense.
"Were you going to give him a hug or were you going to attack him with two knives, what were you going to do?" Walk asked Dunham during the hearing.
Walk also mentioned that since Dunham had no broken bones, required no surgery and was only in the hospital for one day, there wasn't enough to prove the attempted homicide charge.
However, Blake argued that didn't matter.
"What we have here is a sustained assault," he said, adding that a tire iron is a deadly weapon under the circumstances. He told Clancy he didn't think it was significant that the victim tried to defend himself.
Blake said the nature of the attack was an attempt to kill the victim.
Clancy cited her notes on the hearing and that Dunham testified to being hit 30 to 40 times in saying that the charges will be held for county court.
Walk declined comment following the hearing.
Hughes was remanded to York County Prison without bail when he was arrested in July, but on Wednesday Walk convinced Clancy to set bail for him, which she did.
Hughes remains in York County Prison in lieu of $150,000 bail as of Wednesday, according to court records.
A formal arraignment for Hughes is scheduled for 9 a.m. Nov. 3.
— Reach Christopher Dornblaser at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @YDDornblaser.