Hearing continued on racial assault charges

Defendants Jeremy Ingram and Natasha Bowers leave the office of District Judge Tara Smith Friday morning after their preliminary hearing was postponed.

Four of six people charged in the racially-motivated attack of a black man in July appeared before District Judge Tara Smith in Bellevue Friday morning. The hearing was continued because three of those four people had not yet retained attorneys.

Of the two remaining defendants in the case, one is reported to be deceased, and another in the hospital.

Avalon Police charged the group with simple assault, ethnic intimidation and conspiracy after responding to a call at the Jackman Inn on July 7 in which it was reported that local resident Paul Morris Sr., a black man, was jumped by a number of people who identified themselves as being associated with the White Nationalist group Keystone United. The organization, formerly known as the Keystone State Skinheads, is described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as one of the most organized and active state-wide racist hate groups in the country. Morris said that racial slurs were used, and he was told by one of his attackers that they planned to eradicate people of color.

The incident prompted at least two local events in which racism was rejected by members of the community, including the clergy, and questions were raised about why police waited 11 days to file criminal charges.

Appearing in court Friday morning were Crystal Lynn Shields, 23. of Tarentum; James Kryl, 46, of the North Boroughs; Natasha Dawn Bowers, 33, of Roaring Springs, PA; and Jeremy Ingram, 35, also of Roaring Springs.

The court was informed that Travis Lee Cornell, 33. of Marianna, PA had died recently, and court personnel were attempting to confirm that Terrence Stockey, 40, of Beaver, was hospitalized.

Only one defendant, Kryl, had retained an attorney for the preliminary hearing scheduled for that day. Bowers told Judge Smith that she had lost three jobs since the news of her arrest was aired, and that she could not afford an attorney. Shields and Ingram said that they had not had time to retain counsel. Smith released all four on non-monetary bonds that require them to have no contact with the victim or witnesses in this case. The three unrepresented defendants, along with Kryl and Stockey, were ordered to appear with attorneys on Oct. 19.

Kryl's attorney. Michael Foglia, said in an interview that his client was actually a victim, and that the fight was not in any way racially motivated. He said that Kryl and his friends were at the bar to support their friend, Cornell, who had health problems. Foglia said that Morris and the Jackman's cook had been smoking a marijuana cigarette on the deck of the Jackman, and that they had been asked to put it out. According to Foglia, Morris instigated the fight. Kryl himself said "I got hit in the back of the head and the next thing I knew I was in handcuffs."

Kryl admitted that he was wearing a Keystone United t-shirt, which he referred to as a "pit bull t-shirt" The Keystone United logo is a pit bull inside the state outline. Kryl denied being a member of the group, but said he was a "supporter" of the group of which his friend, Cornell, was a member.

Kryl also said that Cornell died as a result of blood clots, and that Cornell's family believed the clots started in the shoulder Cornell reportedly injured in the fight.