County court orders ‘hostile witness’ jailed

The victim of a beating during a robbery of heroin and other items inside a motel room in June 2012 has been locked up in the Lycoming County Prison as a hostile witness, according to state police.

Noor Mujahad Ford, 28, was taken into custody at an undisclosed location last week on a bench warrant that was issued last September by President Judge Nancy L. Butts.

Butts issued the warrant after Ford failed to appear for preliminary hearings for three men arrested on charges of allegedly beating him and robbing him inside a guest room at the Econo Lodge, 2019 E. Third St., on June 19, 2012.

After arrests were made, state police investigators believe that Ford fled the area for fear of his life. The Sun-Gazette has been asked not to publish Ford’s home address for his own safety.

By late last September, police had charged Kenneth Martin, 36, and Terence Dwight Forsythe, 23, both of Philadelphia, along with Michael Tyrone Wills, 24, of the 900 block of Clark Street with the beating and robbery. A fourth man is still being sought

Police said Ford knows the alleged attackers.

With the unusual development of Ford’s disappearance, testimony for the preliminary hearings was heard not by a district judge but by Butts, who ruled there was sufficient evidence to hold all three men on assault and drug charges.

While three men initially were jailed in the Lycoming County Prison, Forsythe and Martin now are free on bail while Wills remains incarcerated.

Ford was arraigned Tuesday before District Judge Gary A. Whiteman on a misdemeanor charge of being an absconding witness and jailed in lieu of $50,000 bail.

Ford will be ordered to testify at the trial for the three men, which is expected to take place in the coming weeks, according to the lead investigator in the case.