Jury finds Jersey Shore man guilty of burglary, assault

A former Jersey Shore man recently was convicted of burglary and aggravated assault after breaking into his uncle’s mobile home, striking him with a claw hammer and fleeing with his debit card last April 1.

A jury Thursday found Patrick Gene Willits, 26, formerly of Allegheny Street, Jersey Shore, guilty of assaulting his uncle, Thomas Willits, and burglarizing his residence at 194 Harvest Moon Park in Woodward Township.

His conviction carries a five-year minimum state prison sentence, according to the district attorney’s office.

Prior to the attack, Willits twice called his uncle to see if he was home, according to cell phone records obtained by the DA’s office. The victim told police he awoke to find someone standing at the foot of his bed. He then was attacked with a claw hammer but was able to wrestle the weapon away from his assailant.

“Once the intruder fled, the victim said he recognized the sound of his nephew’s vehicle as it drove away,” a press release from the DA’s office states.

Before being apprehended by police, Willits sought treatment at Jersey Shore Hospital, claiming he had been “pistol-whipped by his ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend. Medical officials, however, observed no wounds on the man,” according to the press release.

Willits was captured on video using his uncle’s bank card to buy gasoline. He also withdrew $1,296 from his uncle’s account, according to police.

The jury returned guilty verdicts on counts of burglary, aggravated assault, attempted robbery, access device fraud, simple assault, theft, receiving stolen property and false reports to law enforcement. Willits will be sentenced at a later date.

Willits already is serving a state sentence for theft after stealing motorcycles from Main Street Storage at 67 Cement Drive in Porter Township last year.

He currently is an inmate at the State Correctional Institution in Bellefonte.

The Tiadaghton Valley Regional Police are expected to file additional charges against Willits for another incident, according to Assistant District Attorney Martin Wade, who prosecuted the case.