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Worst neighbor ever? Newberry Twp. man sentenced to at least 8 years in prison

Liz Evans Scolforo
York Dispatch
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)

A Newberry Township man who fatally shot his two dogs and attacked a neighbor — including with a wooden 4-by-4 and a pressure washer — must spend at least eight years in state prison.

Jimmy Rickey Lawman Jr. appeared in York County Court on Monday and pleaded guilty in five separate cases, including to the felonies of aggravated cruelty of animals and being a felon in illegal possession of a firearm.

He was sentenced to a total of eight to 16 years in state prison by presiding Common Pleas Judge Amber A. Kraft, court records state.

Lawman, 51, of the 800 block of Valley Green Road, has been in York County Prison since July, court records state.

Rick Bateman, Lawman's next-door neighbor, was the victim in three of the five cases, and on Monday the judge ordered Lawman to have no contact with him.

Bateman testified at Lawman's Aug. 5 preliminary hearing before District Judge Scott Gross that 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.

Attacked: "He was screaming ignorant things to me," Bateman said, then Lawman retrieved a 4-by-4 and struck Bateman 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.

Jimmy Rickey Lawman Jr.

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.

Bateman then 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.

Lawman was charged with felony victim/witness intimidation after the encounter, but that charged was dropped Monday as part of his negotiated plea agreement with prosecutors, as were other charges including retaliation against a victim or witness, court records state.

He pleaded guilty to misdemeanor counts of simple assault, making terroristic threats and disorderly conduct for his crimes against Bateman, court records state.

Scarred by power washer: 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."

A 2018 mugshot of Jimmy Rickey Lawman Jr.

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.

Also testifying in August 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.

Shot, killed dogs: The last person to testify at the preliminary hearing was Newberry Township Police Officer Taylor Nauman, who 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.

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, the officer 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.

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 before the dogs were killed.

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

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