Trial for suspected assailant of police officer continued

The trial was continued Friday for Marco Kevin Ward, 29, of Williamsport, who faces multiple felony charges after allegedly attempting to assault police officers with a knife while resisting arrest for smoking a marijuana cigarette on West Edwin Street on Aug. 4, 2012.

Responding Officer Tommy Bortz tried unsuccessfully to subdue Ward with a stun gun after he allegedly attempted to flee the scene. It was then that Ward tried desperately to reach into his pocket, according to testimony.

“My first thought was, ‘He’s going for a gun.’ Partway through the struggle, I told (another officer) to shoot him,” responding officer Edward Lucas testified Friday.

No shots were fired. Additional officers arrived on scene as a knife fell from Ward’s pocket, according to testimony. Lucas was able to kick the weapon away from the defendant, who was taken into custody.

“If it had been rookie cops this could have played out totally differently. He could have gotten to that knife – it’s a four-inch blade,” Lucas said.

At police headquarters, 3.5 grams of cocaine allegedly fell out of Ward’s pants. He allegedly attempted to conceal the drugs under a machine but was captured on video surveillance, police said.

Ward, already on state parole for burglary and receiving stolen property, faces charges of aggravated assault, possession with intent to deliver cocaine and resisting arrest.

“(Ward) just got out of state prison and really didn’t want to go back,” Lucas said, adding that “state prison is nothing but a training ground for these felons.”

“I’m glad nobody got hurt and it’s because of the experience and quick reaction of my partner. I wouldn’t have rather been with anyone else,” Bortz said.

If convicted, Ward could face a maximum of 15 years and 30 days in state prison, according to Public Defender Robert Cronin. Ward refused a plea bargain and opted instead for a non-jury trial.

“He begged the officers not to charge him with a felony because by his own admission it would make him a violent offender and cause him to be housed in a less favorable portion of the prison,” Assistant District Attorney Martin Wade said. “If someone threatens an officer like the defendant did in this case, we’re not going to brush it under the rug. It’s going to be charged as a felony.”

“My client continues to exert that he is not guilty of this assault,” Cronin said.

Due to the non-availability of one of the defense’s witnesses, Ward’s trial before Judge Marc F. Lovecchio was continued to 9:30 a.m. Dec. 12. Ward currently is being held on $50,000 bail at the Lycoming County Prison.