A preliminary hearing turned violent on Wednesday at Centralized Court at the Clearfield County Jail when a Curwensville man fought with a judge and a dozen police officers and state trooper.
Michael Alexander Stokes, 51, of Filbert Street was in court facing charges of terroristic threats, a misdemeanor of the first degree; simple assault, a misdemeanor of the second degree; and disorderly conduct, a summary offense.
Stokes allegedly grabbed, choked and threatened to kill a female on April 23. The case was continued 90 days for Stokes to seek counseling and he was released on unsecured bail. Yesterday, Stokes asked for a one week delay of his preliminary hearing so he could obtain an attorney, and Magisterial District Judge Michael Morris granted the request.
However, Assistant District Attorney Trudy Lumadue requested a bail hearing because Stokes allegedly assaulted the victim again two days prior.
During the bail hearing, the victim testified that she and Stokes were arguing when Stokes head-butted her, giving her a lump on her head.
She also said Stokes hit her on several occasions, but didn’t remember the dates, and said he would call her on the phone and yell at her to drop the charges against him.
A friend of the victim also testified that she heard Stokes yell at the victim over the phone, and also said Stokes would go to her place of employment and argue with her.
Stokes represented himself at the hearing and when the commonwealth was presenting its case, Stokes would often inappropriately interrupt witnesses despite repeated instructions from Morris for him not to do so.
Stokes then took the stand in his own defense and said he never went to the victim’s place of work, but admitted to head-butting the victim and hitting the victim several times. He also admitted to arguing with her over the phone.
“I’m not a perfect man, I’m not going to lie about that,” Stokes said of the assaults.
At the conclusion of his testimony, Lumadue asked Morris to reset Stokes’ bail at $25,000 monetary.
Stokes then begged Morris to give him unsecured bail because he can’t afford to post bail. He said he has mental health issues and is being treated at the VA hospital in Altoona. Stokes said he takes numerous medications to treat mental health and the last time he was in the Clearfield County Jail the jail wouldn’t pay for all of his medications, causing him to get into a lot of fights.
Stokes said he is okay when he takes his medications.
Morris said he understood his predicament but said he didn’t have a choice. He told Stokes he had 90 days to get himself in order and two days ago, he again assaulted the victim.
“For the safety of the victim and the community, I am resetting bail at $25,000 monetary,” Morris said.
Stokes again asked Morris to give him unsecured bail and said he would get into fights at the jail.
“Then more charges will be forthcoming if you do,” Morris replied.
Stokes then stood up and overturned the defense table and began to yell and curse. Morris got down off the bench and walked over to Stokes and told him to calm down.
Stokes continued to yell and he turned his back to Morris and began to walk away. Morris put his hand on Stokes’ shoulder and Stokes abruptly turned around and aggressively shoved Morris with one hand on his chest and one hand on Morris’s face.
Stokes then retreated to the left side of the room where Lumadue was seated, Lumadue quickly stood up and moved to the rear of the room. Stokes then grabbed the prosecution table and violently overturned it — sending a stack of case files, law books, coffee and cell phones flying across the room.
Stokes is muscular and weighs approximately 240 pounds, according to the docket sheet. There were two officers in the room at the time, the arresting state Trooper Emerson Miller who was in uniform, and Clearfield Borough Assistant Police Chief Nathan Curry who was in street clothes awaiting another case.
Miller deployed his Taser and the probes struck Stokes, but it appeared to not affect him. Within moments, about a dozen state troopers and police officers entered the room and rushed Stokes and brought him to the floor. It took several moments for authorities to subdue Stokes who continued to struggle, yell and curse as troopers and police officers took him to a jail cell. Stokes also yelled that Tasers don’t have any affect on him.
There was a long preliminary hearing list at Centralized Court and there were numerous police officers and state troopers at the jail at the time of the incident. Many of them were in the lobby area next to the hearing room.
The incident probably lasted less than a minute.
There were several other people seated in the gallery area of the small hearing room at the time of the incident, including an elderly female with a walker who was a family member of a defendant in a different case, an employee with Victim/Witness, the victim and her friend/witness, and The Progress reporter.
The Progress didn’t hear of any reports of injuries related to the incident while on scene.