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Monday, September 8, 2014
Bensalem officer testifies that escapee stabbed him
Posted: Tuesday, September 2, 2014
Before he plunged a 4½-inch steel blade into a Bensalem police officer’s lower abdomen, a 23-year-old Bensalem man threw punches and lunged at him with the knife, the officer testified Tuesday.
“It felt like I was punched in the stomach,” patrolman Michael Jachimski testified at a preliminary hearing for Matthew Miller, who is charged with attempted homicide and related offenses in the June 10 stabbing in Bensalem.
The knife blade pierced the outer two portions of Jachimski’s bulletproof vest, and scraped the inner Kevlar portion of the vest, but he wasn’t injured, the officer testified.
Jachimski said Miller said nothing before or during the attack, which occurred while the officer was attempting to arrest Miller, who was wanted for escaping from the Bucks County Community Corrections center.
Miller walked away from the Doylestown minimum security center on June 6, officials said. In 2010, Miller went AWOL from a prison work release program, according to court records.
Bensalem police were notified shortly before 1 p.m. the day of the attack that a warrant had been issued for Miller, whose last known address was in Bensalem. A half hour later, an off-duty Bensalem police officer reported seeing Miller walking with another man near Bristol Pike and Woodhaven Road, according to police.
Minutes later, Jachimski stopped the pair on Woodhaven Road. He ordered them to sit on the ground and pulled out his stun gun, he said. Miller initially gave police a false first name, he said.
When Jachimski attempted to handcuff Miller, the suspect stood up and started throwing punches at the officer, Jachimski testified. Miller ran to the driver’s side of Jachimski’s marked patrol vehicle and opened the driver’s door, he said.
The two scuffled and Miller pulled out a black folding knife, opened it and lunged toward the officer several times before striking him, Jachimski said. The knife hit the vest about 1½ inches above its bottom edge, police said.
“Did you feel it?” Miller’s defense attorney John Fioravanti Jr. asked. “I felt it make contact with me,” Jachimski answered.
After stabbing Jachimski, Miller got into the officer’s patrol vehicle and drove down Woodhaven Road into Northeast Philadelphia, according to records. The patrol vehicle was found abandoned in a shopping center at Fairdale and Knights roads.
Bensalem officer Brian Cowden testified he and his K-9 partner Chief found a Chicago Bulls baseball hat and a pair of jeans left in a trash can on the athletic field for the Arts Academy at Benjamin Rush near where the car was abandoned. Miller was taken into police custody near the school.
Bensalem Detective Glenn Vandegrift testified that items found inside the jean pockets — a lighter, black-folding knife and portable music player with ear buds — were swabbed for DNA evidence, along with the jeans and baseball cap. The samples were compared with a 2012 DNA profile for Miller that Bensalem had in its DNA database. The results were a positive match for the lighter, jeans and ear buds, Vandegrift testified.
The testing on the knife was inconclusive, Vandegrift testified.
Following testimony, Fioravanti argued that the attempted homicide charge should be dismissed because there was lack of evidence the crime was premeditated or that his client intended to kill the officer. Deputy District Attorney Robert James said premeditation can happen the moment before a crime is committed.
“But for the Kevlar, this officer might be dead,” the prosecutor added. “This defendant definitely did not intend to go back to jail that day.”
Doylestown District Judge Mark Douple agreed with James, holding Miller for trial on all charges involving the stabbing. Before the hearing, Miller waived his preliminary hearing on a separate felony escape charge, which will be consolidated into his attempted homicide case when it goes to trial.
Miller remains incarcerated in Bucks County prison in lieu of two separate bails: $5 million cash in connection with the stabbing and 10 percent of $1 million for the escape.