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Man pleads guilty in Mt. Pleasant scare

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Friday, Oct. 25, 2013, 9:27 p.m.
 

A Mt. Pleasant man who disconnected the natural gas line to his furnace in a February attempt to blow up his home pleaded guilty on Friday to a misdemeanor charge of reckless endangerment.

Under the terms of the plea agreement, Mark D. Halfhill, 51, was sentenced by Westmoreland County Judge John Blahovec to serve six to 23 months in prison and was immediately paroled.

Halfhill told Blahovec that the incident, resulting in the evacuation of 19 homes, was a suicide attempt.

In offering his plea, he said, “I just want to get my life back on track.”

A more serious felony charge of risking a catastrophe was dismissed as part of a plea agreement.

The incident began just before 11 p.m. Feb. 5 when Halfhill's sister called 911 to say he told her he had disconnected the gas line and was going to blow up his house, police said.

When officers detected a strong odor of gas at Halfhill's home, they evacuated houses within a one-block radius.

Halfhill ignored repeated attempts to exit the residence, so police broke out a front window to allow gas to escape and ordered him to leave.

“If something would've happened … I could've possibly hurt someone,” Halfhill told Blahovec. Halfhill was sent to the Westmoreland County Prison on Feb. 12 with a $50,000 bail, according to court records but was later released as part of an agreement that he would undergo inpatient mental health treatment.

But when his insurance would no longer cover the treatment, he left the program and was later returned to prison after police twice found him at a bar.

As part of Friday's plea deal, Blahovec ordered Halfhill to undergo outpatient mental health treatment and to refrain from drinking alcohol.

Renatta Signorini is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-837-5374 or rsignorini@tribweb.com.

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