State prison term for clawhammer attack

A former Jersey Shore man who broke into his uncle’s mobile home, attacked him with a clawhammer and stole his debit card was sentenced Monday to six to 12 years in state prison, two years consecutive probation and $1,296 restitution, according to Assistant District Attorney Martin Wade, who prosecuted the case.

“Without a doubt, the community is safer with Patrick Willits behind bars,” Wade said.

In October, a jury found Patrick Gene Willits, 26, guilty of burglary, aggravated assault, attempted robbery, access device fraud, simple assault, theft, receiving stolen property and false reports to law enforcement for his April 1, 2013 crimes.

Willits, who participated via video conference from the State Correctional Institution at Rockview, had a somber demeanor at the time of sentencing. The only statement Willits made before the court was “that his father was having heart trouble and he wanted to get out before his father died,” according to Wade.

Willits may face additional prison time for an unrelated crime. The Tiadaghton Valley Regional Police filed charges against Willits on Nov. 1 for his involvement in a motorcycle theft, according to Wade.

“Willits sold a motorcycle that was stolen from a storage locker. He forged a fake receipt to make it look like he had lawfully obtained the motorcycle and showed it to the person he sold the motorcycle to,” Wade said.

A preliminary hearing on those counts has not yet been scheduled.