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Boswell man escapes state prison sentence in bar fight

September 26, 2018

A Boswell man nearly received a state prison sentence Tuesday for punching a man and a woman outside a bar in December.

After hearing his version of events, however, President Judge D. Gregory Geary decided to sentence 47-year-old Jeremy Harding to six to 23 months in the Somerset County Jail for the confrontation Dec. 15 outside Merchants Restaurant and Lounge along Main Street in Boswell.

“The one inescapable fact here is that you broke the nose of a woman,” the judge told Harding before announcing his sentence. “You can call me old-fashioned, but you just don’t do that.”

Assistant District Attorney Carolann Young said that the district attorney’s office supports the facts as presented in the affidavit. According to court documents, three people were standing in the parking lot when Harding began doing doughnuts on an all-terrain vehicle, kicking ice and snow at the three. When they protested, Harding told them, “You getting in my face,” and then punched a man and a woman in the face, police said. He broke both of their noses.

On July 18 Harding pleaded guilty to simple assault and recklessly endangering another person. Geary questioned which individual, the man or the woman, the guilty plea referred to since it was not clear in court documents. The recklessly endangering another person charge dealt with Harding’s driving in the parking lot.

His attorney, Matt Zatko of Somerset, called it more of a “mutual combat” situation. He said that Harding was on the ground being attacked, and he provided Geary with photographs supporting their version of events.

“This was a response to acts being committed against him,” he said.

Harding said he suffered a concussion during the fight. He said he was outnumbered and panicked.

“I just started swinging,” he said.

Zatko said the victims could have been in court Tuesday.

“It speaks volumes that they chose not to be here,” he said. “The only recollection of events we have are Mr. Harding’s.”

He must pay court costs, fines and restitution to the victims totaling $7,092.70.

“The bottom line is you punched a woman and broke her nose,” Geary said.

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