Worst neighbor ever? Newberry Twp. man faces trial in 5 criminal cases

Liz Evans Scolforo
York Dispatch

A Newberry Township man accused of fatally shooting his two dogs and attacking neighbors, including with a wooden 4-by-4 and a pressure washer, is  facing trial in York County Court on charges in five separate criminal cases.

When Jimmy Rickey Lawman Jr.'s cases make it to common pleas court, prosecutors will add a charge of being a felon in illegal possession of a firearm to the man's animal-cruelty case, deputy prosecutor Virginia Hobbs said in court.

Lawman, 51, of the 800 block of Valley Green Road, remains in York County Prison.

He represented himself at the back-to-back hearings Wednesday after District Judge Scott Gross noted Lawman was granted several continuances for failing to retain an attorney. Lawman indicated he didn't understand the process, but Hobbs noted he has prior criminal cases and "understands how it works."

Rick Bateman, Lawman's next-door neighbor, is the listed victim in three of the five cases.

Jimmy Lawman Jr., wearing prison orange, is led out of District Judge Scott Gross' office by a state constable on Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2020, after having five preliminary hearings there.
(Liz Evans Scolforo photo)

Bateman testified he was walking his dog on Jan. 31 when Lawman attacked him, angry that Bateman had objected to Lawman's dogs defecating in Bateman's yard.

Injured leg: "He was screaming ignorant things to me," Bateman said, then retrieved a 4-by-4 and struck him in the leg three times.

"I couldn't work for a week" and was on crutches, the neighbor testified. Court documents filed by Newberry Township Police state Bateman had visible bruises on his kneecap and lower leg.

The testimony of a witness to the alleged attack confirmed Bateman's account.

Bateman said he grabbed the 4-by-4 from Lawman and threw it in the creek that's at the back of their properties, after which Lawman retrieved a 4-foot-long piece of steel and threw it at Bateman, striking him in the arm.

In that case, Lawman is charged with two counts of simple assault and one count each of making terroristic threats and harassment.

'I will kill you': In Lawman's second preliminary hearing, Bateman testified he was walking his dog on March 5 when he saw Lawman, who he said became belligerent.

"He was just staring me down, trying to intimidate me ... (and said), 'I will kill you when this is all over with,'" Bateman said.

In that case, Lawman is charged with the third-degree felony of victim/witness intimidation and the misdemeanor of making terroristic threats.

In Lawman's third criminal case involving Bateman, filed in April, he is charged with simple assault, reckless endangerment, retaliation against a victim or witness, defiant trespass and harassment.

Bateman told the judge that he was trying to mow his grass April 11 when Lawman, his wife and adult son started throwing items from their shed onto Bateman's property to block his path.

Lawman had previously insisted the property line was about 6 feet into Bateman's yard, but a surveyor later determined "it's right where I told him it was," said Bateman, who by that time had served notice on Lawman to stay off his property.

Bateman said he simply kept mowing his lawn until Lawman sprayed him in the face with a gas-powered power washer from 2 feet away.

"He shot me and my wife both, but she was farther away," he testified. "I have a scar."

Bateman was wearing a face mask as he testified, but held up a photograph of the side of his face, which showed a thick red abrasion and bruise that started at the corner of his eye and went straight back behind his ear.

At the time, Lawman was free on bail on his earlier assault case, in which Bateman is the listed victim, according to court documents. Gross has now revoked bail in one of Lawman's assault cases, so he can't be released even if he posts bail in his four other cases.

Jimmy Rickey Lawman Jr.

Also testifying against Lawman in a separate case was Douglas Hatcher, another neighbor of Lawman's.

Hatcher said he was taking his trash to the curb on March 7 when Lawman's Akita "came across the road in an aggressive manner," but was scared off by a passing truck.

Court documents filed by Newberry Township Police state the dog bit someone on Dec. 20 and bit another person on Feb. 16.

"This dog posed a significant risk to the public as both individuals who were bitten were on the roadway and the dog was not secured," documents state.

In that case, Lawman is charged with misdemeanor disorderly conduct and the summary offense of failure to keep a dog confined.

Shot, killed dogs: Finally, Newberry Township Police Officer Taylor Nauman testified he filed charges against Lawman for fatally shooting his two dogs in the head.

Killed were a 1- to 1½-year-old Akita named Judge and a 1½-year-old pit bull named Gracie, according to the officer.

Nauman said he was dispatched to Lawman's home in late June to serve an involuntary-commitment mental-health warrant on Lawman, which was applied for by his wife and daughter-in-law.

Lawman had been home alone with the dogs on June 20, he said.

On June 22, the dogs were found dead in the creek behind the Lawman home, he said, and it was determined they both died of gunshot wounds to the head. A spent .22-caliber shell casing was found at the scene, he said.

"They were submerged in the water," Nauman testified, adding Lawman's wife provided police with video from their door camera.

Gun recovered: That footage showed Lawman leading each dog to the creek, after which gunshots are heard, court documents state.

A 2018 mugshot of Jimmy Rickey Lawman Jr.

The video showed that when Lawman returned home, he was "soaked in water from the waist down," Nauman said.

Police later tracked Lawman to a Harrisburg hotel and arrested him, then recovered a .22-caliber rifle from the trunk of the car he'd driven there, Nauman said.

Nauman said Newberry Township Police had been preparing to charge Lawman with harboring dangerous dogs prior to the dogs being killed.

— Reach senior crime reporter Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.

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