Felony assault charges against Lebanon County farmer Timothy Getz may be reduced as a result of plea negotiations, although nothing has been finalized at this time.
Steven Breit of Lancaster, the Getz family attorney, said recently that he filed paperwork with Lebanon County District Attorney Dave Arnold that pled Getz not guilty of assault. Those papers had been reviewed at the time of an arraignment for Getz on Dec. 18.
“At this point, I have not received any information that says charges have been reduced,” Breit said. “I haven’t received any amended information and we’re still in the process of a series of plea negotiations. But I do believe there is a resolution in sight.”
The office of District Attorney Arnold was contacted last week for comment regarding the charges against Getz, however, Arnold was not available.
Getz, 35, had been charged with aggravated assault, simple assault, and harassment as a result of an incident on Sept. 4, during a barn fire on the Jackson Township property of Marlin Getz, Timothy’s father.
A state trooper with the Jonestown barracks maintains that he was struck by Timothy Getz while both men were in the smoke-filled barn.
In the early evening, as the barn fire raged, Getz, his brother, Todd Getz, 39, firefighters, family and neighbors were trying to get as many cattle out of the barn as quickly as they could.
Pennsylvania State Trooper Jorge DeJesus entered the barn and tried to get Getz to leave the smoke-filled structure, according to Todd Getz.
DeJesus alleges that Getz struck him in the face as he was trying to pull Getz from the barn.
Intentionally causing injury to a police officer must be labeled aggravated assault and is a felony, DA Dave Arnold said last month.
Timothy Getz sustained a head injury during the incident and was taken to a local hospital for treatment.
Despite efforts, 14 cows, 10 heifers, and one calf were lost, Todd Getz said.
The barn was also destroyed.
The cause of the fire has officially been categorized as undetermined by State Police Fire Marshal John Burns.
Plea negotiations are ongoing with the DA’s office, Breit said.
“I’ve been negotiating with Arnold, but he became ill for a time,” Breit said. “As of the middle of January, negotiations might be with a new district attorney.”
Breit was referring to a special election to be held Jan. 14, in which Arnold is running as the Republican candidate for a state senate seat.
If Arnold is successful, another district attorney for the county will need to take his place.
News about a local man being charged with assault as he was trying to save his cattle caused a general uproar in the county. A petition being circulated by friends of the family to have all charges dropped against Getz brought in more than 20,000 signatures, his family said.
“The case has garnered a lot of attention and that’s also affecting what we’re doing,” Breit said. “All parties – the family, the state police, and attorneys – are cooperating for a mutually agreeable outcome, which would culminate in the charges effectively being dismissed.
“But a plea agreement requires give and take, so we must work together for a mutually agreeable result,” Breit said.
Todd Getz said the barn is currently being rebuilt.
The family has considered litigation, Getz said, since Tim sustained an injury, but has not moved forward with that possibility.