SKOWHEGAN – No charges will be brought against three men involved 10 months ago in a midday melee in the parking lot of Somerset Plaza in Pittsfield.
The brawl, part of a summer-long feud between those involved, resulted in head injuries to one person and sent shoppers running for cover
Somerset County District Attorney Evert Fowle explained Wednesday that the statements provided by the witnesses and participants are too conflicting.
“There is a concept of law called mutual affray,” he said, explaining that everyone involved “behaved badly.”
“There is no question this was a melee. This was a cluster. But we came to the conclusion that it is impossible to determine who the ultimate aggressor was.”
Fowle praised the investigative work of the Pittsfield Police Department.
“I don’t want this to reflect at all on the quality of their work. They did exactly what they should have done in this case,” he said. “We are not critical of the police or their investigation.”
Although the incident happened in April 2003, it was continued last July, pending further investigation, by former Assistant District Attorney David Crook. Since then, Crook had left the district attorney’s office and Assistant District Attorney James Mitchell took over.
Fowle said there were a number “of law-abiding witnesses who saw different phases of the melee and, as credible as they are, they are not all in agreement with each other. Their collective recollection is not strong enough to pursue charges.”
Dozens of shoppers watched in horror last April 14 as a feud that began earlier in the day erupted in the busy parking lot, with one man, Joshua Behrenshouser, 24, of Palmyra, being struck by a car and repeatedly beaten with a 3-foot-long screwdriver and a metal baseball bat.
Original information provided by some witnesses indicated that two men, Willie Moss, 29, and Thomas Civils, 25, both of Pittsfield, rammed Behrenshouser’s vehicle just feet from the store entrance on April 14.
Other witnesses came forward, however, and stated that Moss and Civils were sitting in Moss’s car in the lot when Behrenshouser approached the car and began striking it with a crowbar, breaking the windshield and damaging the car.
Civils allegedly began chasing Behrenshouser with a baseball bat, and Moss was accused of running down Behrenshouser with the vehicle. According to witnesses, as Behrenshouser tried to get into the supermarket for help, Civils continued to strike him with the bat and Moss left the car and began hitting Behrenshouser with the screwdriver.
Original charges against Moss and Civils included aggravated assault, disorderly conduct, assault, and criminal mischief.
Moss was also charged with reckless conduct with a dangerous weapon and driving to endanger. Behrenshouser was charged with disorderly conduct and criminal mischief.
Fowle said the lack of prosecution should not be determined as proof of innocence.
“Everyone involved behaved badly,” he added.