Police: Convicted murderer tried to throw York County Prison guard over catwalk

Liz Evans Scolforo
York Dispatch
York County Prison in Springettsbury Township, Thursday, June 29, 2017.

A former Northeastern High School student who beat a woman to death with a baseball bat over drug money is now accused of attacking a York County Prison guard and trying to throw him over a catwalk.

Corrections Officer Michael Treider was pummeled and suffered a broken hand, according to state police.

Court documents state Treider would more than likely have suffered serious injuries had he fallen the 15 feet from the second-tier catwalk to the ground floor of the prison's Delta C-Pod.

Edia "Richie" Lawrence, 22, is already serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole for the brutal murder of 19-year-old Ahshantianna Ali Johnson, known as Shanti. He ambushed her and badly beat her in the yard of her Mount Wolf home on March 25, 2017. She died five days later.

Jurors found Lawrence, originally from the New York City borough of  the Bronx, guilty in March 2020 of second-degree murder, two counts of robbery and a number of lesser offenses.

Lawrence was in York County Prison on Oct. 14, 2020, when Treider asked him for the television remote control, which Lawrence had been holding for about 30 minutes and which Treider needed to adjust the volume on a TV in a neighboring pod, according to charging documents.

'You f—ed up: Lawrence held the remote behind his back and backed away from Treider, at which point the officer concluded Lawrence was being intentionally defiant and tried to handcuff him.

Edia Lawrence, who goes by "Richie"

That's when Lawrence punched Treider in the side of the head and told him, "You f—ed up," documents state.

Lawrence shoved the officer and forced him back about 6 feet, then charged him and punched him repeatedly, with Treider responding with his own punches in an effort to defend himself, according to charging documents.

The 5-foot-8, 225-pound Lawrence dropped to the ground and grabbed the legs of Treider, whose back was against the catwalk's railing, documents state.

Fearing the murderer would throw him over the side, Treider dropped his weight to the ground, police said, which is when fellow corrections officers arrived to help. One of them tackled Lawrence, according to state police.

Caught on video: Prison security footage shows Lawrence attacking the officer, documents allege.

Lawrence later made statements that it was his intent to throw Treider off the catwalk, and some of those statements also were recorded, according to charging documents.

He's charged with the felonies of aggravated assault and assault by a prisoner on a facility employee, as well as with simple assault and harassment.

His criminal complaint states the "assault by a prisoner" charge was filed because Lawrence allegedly knew he could be exposing the officer to a communicable disease, "including, but not limited to, HIV or (hepatitis) B."

Charging documents don't specify what communicable disease the murderer is believed to have, if any.

Awaiting hearing: Lawrence was scheduled to have a preliminary hearing on his charges, but that was continued, according to the office of District Judge Barry Bloss Jr. No new date had been set as of Monday.

Lawrence had previously been charged in York County for an unrelated case in which police allege a drug deal gone bad led Lawrence to point a gun at the mother of the man involved, then threaten to shoot her other children.

That case was dropped in August, according to Kyle King, spokesperson for the York County District Attorney's Office.

At his June 2020 sentencing hearing for murdering Shanti Johnson, Lawrence displayed indifference, asking a judge whether he had to listen to his victim's survivors talk about their grief.

Told that yes, he must listen, Lawrence repeatedly twirled a strand of his hair, tapped his fingers on the defense table and stared at the ceiling. After grieving relatives spoke in court, Lawrence decided he also had something to say:

"Like, it's not over. There's an appeals system. I'll be back. That's all."

The murder: Lawrence and two others donned masks and entered the Second Street home in Mount Wolf that Johnson shared with her mother, stole property inside and beat the family dog with a bat. Prosecutors said Lawrence was fronting drug dealers marijuana, then having people collect his money later.

Trial testimony indicated Johnson, who was Lawrence's former girlfriend, picked up some of that cash and kept it.

Johnson's mother, Noemi Capo, told jurors she recognized the ringleader of the trio as Lawrence and that he ordered her to call Johnson and convince her to come home, which she did. Shortly after making the call but before Johnson arrived, Capo was able to escape and ran for help.

But when officers arrived, it was too late. They found Johnson unconscious and bloody outside her home.

No one else has been charged with Johnson's murder.

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