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Delmont resident will face trial in road-rage incident

| Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013, 12:02 a.m.

A Delmont man, whom police said sucker-punched another driver who cut him off in traffic, will face trial in Westmoreland County Court for the incident that allegedly left the victim with a concussion and bleeding on his brain.

Robert E. Crise, 38, of 201 E. Pittsburgh St., originally faced charges of simple assault and harassment for the Dec. 1 incident in the Wal-Mart parking lot in Murrysville.

But Assistant District Attorney Chuck Washburn added a charge of aggravated assault at the beginning of Tuesday's preliminary hearing before Export District Judge Charles Conway because of the extent of the victim's injuries.

The alleged victim, Jamey L. Campbell, 43, of Latrobe, testified that he and his girlfriend June McGraw were driving to the Wal-Mart store to shop when he realized he was in the left lane of travel on Hollywood Boulevard when he should have been in the right.

He said he made a quick move to get into the right lane in front of a white Hummer, cutting off the other vehicle.

Campbell said he proceeded to the store and parked in the lot. He then noticed the Hummer had parked across the traffic lane from him.

“I got out and said, ‘I'm sorry for cutting you off,'” Campbell testified.

Campbell said he didn't remember the man, whom he identified as Crise, saying anything to him.

He said the last thing he remembers was looking over at his girlfriend when she grabbed him by the sweater and asked him to go into the store.

Then he woke up in an ambulance.

McGraw testified that she heard Crise say that Campbell had cut him off.

Then Campbell replied, “People get cut off all the time,” McGraw testified.

She said the two men started with a back-and-forth argument, and approached each other until they were an arm's-length apart.

McGraw said that's when she grabbed Campbell's arm to get him to go into the store. When her boyfriend looked at her, Crise punched him in the head.

“Mr. Crise said, ‘I warned him. I warned him,' and then ran to his vehicle,” McGraw said.

Defense attorney W. Jeffrey Leonard questioned Campbell's behavior that day and whether he was aggressive toward Crise.

“Did it ever occur to you, sir, what you should do is stay in your car?” he asked Campbell.

Campbell said he didn't recall raising his fists, and McGraw said she didn't see him do that either.

However, a witness at the scene told Murrysville police that he saw Campbell crack his neck and raise his fists in front of him just before Crise struck him.

That witness has not responded to police requests to provide a written statement and did not appear for the hearing yesterday.

After he was punched, Campbell fell to the ground, hitting his head on the pavement, McGraw said.

“He was unconscious,” she said. “I could see the blood coming out onto the pavement.”

Campbell said he was first taken to Excela Health Westmoreland Hospital in Greensburg and then UPMC Presbyterian in Oakland.

He suffered a concussion, a laceration and bleeding on his brain. He was in the hospital for three days and missed five days of work. He works as a machinist and a meat cutter.

Campbell said he suffers headaches about every other day as a result of the incident.

But Leonard questioned whether Campbell's injuries were severe enough to warrant an aggravated assault charge, saying Campbell returned to work and has not sought follow-up medical care since the incident.

Washburn argued that someone who hits a defenseless person should know that serious bodily injury can result, and that there was no evidence presented that Campbell was a willing participant in a fight.

Conway agreed to let all the charges proceed to the county level, saying prosecutors had a right to prove during trial whether Campbell's injuries were serious enough for the aggravated assault charge.

Jennifer Reeger is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6155 or jreeger@tribweb.com.

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