Stories written by Jo Ciavaglia, award-winning multimedia newspaper reporter at the Bucks County Courier Times in Bucks County, a suburb of Philadelphia, Pa.
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Monday, March 9, 2015
Plea deal may be sought for Parx jockey charged with burglary, assault, etc.
Posted: Wednesday, March 4, 2015
With a pink shirt hiding his colostomy bag, a pair of blue jeans, a buzz cut and braces on his teeth, Angel Suarez Medero looked more like a high school freshman than a man who allegedly went on what officials said was a half-naked rampage they suspect was fueled by drugs.
The 21-year-old Medero, a promising jockey at Parx Racing in Bensalem, is headed to trial in Bucks County Court after police say he broke into two apartments in the Bensalem complex where he lives, assaulted two people and stole a dog before he was shot twice by another man a few days after Christmas.
Exactly why a man his defense attorney described as “117 pounds of sweetness” ended up in this position remains a mystery, though both the defense and prosecution believe the marijuana that Medero allegedly smoked beforehand is a factor.
Toxicology and lab tests are pending on Medero and the marijuana found in his apartment, prosecutor Dan Sweeney said, adding that it appears the marijuana was a “very virulent” variety.
“We don’t really have a good reason why it happened,” Medero’s attorney, William Goldman Jr. said, after his client waived his right to a preliminary hearing Wednesday on charges including burglary, simple assault and indecent exposure. “We’re scratching our heads to figure out why. This is all atypical for Angel.”
Medero, who is free after posting 10 percent of his $250,000 bail, doesn’t remember the Dec. 28 incident, Goldman said. He added that his client wanted him to publicly apologize for his behavior.
Bensalem police believe Medero was in a marijuana-induced haze when a woman saw him masturbating on the second-floor balcony of her apartment in the Franklin Commons complex where he and his girlfriend lived. As the woman ran out of her apartment to call police, she heard glass breaking and the man who was later identified as Medero running around her apartment, police said.
When police arrived, they found the rear sliding glass door and rear bedroom window of the apartment broken and living room furniture overturned. Police later learned that Medero threw a lawn chair through the sliding glass door and entered the apartment. They found fresh blood on the kitchen floor, bathroom door jamb and closet door.
While investigating the call, officers received a report that a man had been shot and was being detained at another apartment in the same building.
When police investigated, a couple in the second apartment said they were watching TV when they heard a banging from outdoors, court documents said. The wife opened the sliding glass door to investigate while the husband retrieved his .45-caliber gun. The husband walked into the rear yard, where he saw Medero dive out of a second-floor window of the first apartment, police said.
Medero, who was wearing a white T-shirt and nothing else, had a long-haired dachshund in his arms when he jumped, the husband told police. Ollie the dog, which belonged to the woman in the first apartment, was missing for two weeks before he was found and returned to his owner.
After he landed, Medero headed toward the husband, waving his arms and talking “gibberish,” the affidavit said. Medero got into the husband’s apartment and grabbed the wife, police said. The husband said he warned Medero twice that he had a gun.
The husband fired the gun twice when Medero was running at him and wouldn’t stop, hitting him in the stomach area, court documents said. When the bullets failed to stop Medero, police said the husband grabbed him and put him a headlock while his wife called 911. The resident doesn’t face any criminal charges in the shooting, according to the Bucks County District Attorney’s Office.
Medero struggled with police when they attempted to take him into custody and it took three officers to handcuff him, according to police.
In the subsequent investigation, Medero’s girlfriend, who’s also a jockey, said Medero had smoked marijuana before the incident, according to a probable cause affidavit. After the two argued, the girlfriend said Medero went into the bathroom and was “acting off” when he came out, according to the affidavit.
When her son left the bathroom, Medero’s mother said he appeared to be having a “mental episode” similar to one he experienced after smoking marijuana when they lived in Puerto Rico, court documents said.
The shooting left Medero with liver and pancreas injuries. He uses a colostomy bag and more surgeries are scheduled, Goldman said. A second-place finisher in the prestigious Eclipse Award for the top apprentice jockey in 2012, Medero’s future in the sport is uncertain, his attorney added.
After the brief court appearance, Goldman said he’s awaiting a medical review and lab analysis results before he sits down with Sweeney to attempt to work out a negotiated guilty plea.
“It’s an extremely strange case. We are all at a loss to understand why and how this happened,” Goldman said. “Perhaps the best message to the community is don’t smoke marijuana — you don’t know what it might be laced with.”