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Man freed in aggravated assault ‘accident’

A Lewisburg man, whose alleged Rock Run scuffle resulted in a victim’s eye being penetrated with a kebab skewer, will be released following a bail modification Friday.

Marvin Agosta-Melendez, 33, has been in jail since Nov. 21, 2019, when he was charged with aggravated assault and several other charges related to the July 27, 2019, incident. More than 10 family and friends came to support Agosta-Melendez in court.

“This is a clear case that, through some freak accident, turned out to be more than it should have,” said Martin L. Wade, first assistant district attorney.

Additionally, the time Agosta-Melendez had served in jail was about the same he would have received through a plea deal, he said.

After being reported by other park-goers that summer day at Middle Falls swimming hole in McIntyre Township for loud music and drinking alcoholic beverages, Agosta-Melendez’s group got into a fight with the reporting party, said rangers with the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

He allegedly struck another individual with a heavy shopping bag that contained wooden kebab skewers, one of which entered the victim’s eye and required surgery to remove a one-and-a-half inch fragment of the sharpened wood, according to the affidavit.

Both prosecutors and defense lawyer agreed that nothing more would be gained by having Agosta-Melendez jailed, and that he posed no threat to society.

He had been unable to make the $99,000 bail set by District Judge William C. Soloman.

With Agosta-Melendez speaking only broken English and requiring an interpreter in court, his lawyer, Mark M. Mack, said keeping the man in a prison where he could not speak to anyone amounted to “cruel and unusual punishment.”

His lack of fluent English would also prohibit Agosta-Melendez from being able to learn rules at the prison or seek medical attention, if needed, Mack said.

“He is being isolated,” said Mack. “As it stands now, he is a man alone in a sea of unfamiliarity.”

Mack asked Judge Ryan M. Tira that Agosta-Melendez be placed on supervised bail so that his client can return to his job and prepare his defense.

Though Tira said he didn’t recognize the defendant’s placement in Lycoming County Prison as cruel and unusual punishment, he would allow Agosta-Melendez’s bail to be reduced to an unsecured $10,000 based on the district attorney’s concession.

The large amount of support Agosta-Melendez received from his loved ones also proved to him that he would continue to show up for his court dates, Tira added.

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