Judge: Penn Township man cannot use drunkenness as defense for firing at police
A Penn Township man charged with firing a rifle at police will not be allowed to argue to jurors at his upcoming attempted murder trial that his actions are less serious because he was drunk.
Westmoreland County Common Pleas Court Judge Tim Krieger ruled during a hearing Friday that jurors can hear evidence that Jody Martz was drunk when he fired at officers who responded to a call to his home in 2016, but that his intoxication cannot be used as a defense to mitigate the allegations against him.
Martz, 55, is accused of attempted murder, aggravated assault and other offenses in connection with the Aug. 31, 2016, incident at his Thomas Street home. Police said Martz fired a .270-caliber rifle through a wall as officers gathered outside. One round tore a hole in the uniform of a Penn Township police officer, who was not injured.
“We can’t sanitize the case to the jury. I am going to argue to jurors that when he woke up that morning the last thing he wanted to do was to shoot at police officers,” said defense attorney Jeff Monzo. “They should hear he was acting like a drunken fool.”
The defense has claimed that Martz was drunk when police responded to the home where women were attending a home decorating party. Police said several women claimed Martz assaulted them during some sort of altercation.
Assistant District Attorney Adam Barr conceded that jurors will hear that Martz was drunk but said state law does allow intoxication to be used as a defense in cases where a defendant is not charged with first-degree murder.
Martz’s trial is scheduled to begin in November after several years of delays because of ongoing pretrial legal issues.
Martz served nearly three years in jail awaiting trial, having been unable to post the $500,000 bond ordered after his arrest. In May, Krieger released Martz from jail, ruling that his speedy trial rights had been violated.
Meanwhile, Barr said in court on Friday that a potential plea bargain deal for Martz has been rescinded.
Rich Cholodofsky is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Rich at 724-830-6293, [email protected] or via Twitter .