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Monday, February 4, 2013

The Baseball Bat as a Deadly Weapon

     If there is a one-stop shopping place for people contemplating criminal homicide or aggravated assault, it's the sports store. Would-be assailants can choose from a wide variety of handguns, rifles, shotguns, knives, ropes, and baseball bats.

     Two-thirds of all criminal homicides in the United States involve handguns. Knives come in second as the weapon of choice, accounting for about 14 percent of all homicidal deaths. Blunt objects--hammers, clubs, tire irons, and baseball bats--come in third at about five percent. That leaves hands, fists, feet, rifles, shotguns, ropes, pillows, poisons, bath tubs, vehicles, and matches.

     In 2011, of the 12,664 criminal homicides perpetrated in the United States, 500 were committed with blunt objects of which aluminum baseball bats were the most popular. While no one knows exactly how many people are assaulted every year by bat wielding assailants, the number would have to be in the several hundreds. (It is a fact that more people are murdered every year by baseball bats than assault rifles.)

     In 2001, corrections authorities in Texas finally got around to executing Adolpho Gil Hernandez who, in 1988, used a baseball bat to murder a 69-year-old woman in the course of a Lubbock robbery. More recently, in June 2012, a jury in Bend, Oregon found Richard Clarke guilty of murdering Matthew Fitzhenry in October 2010. Clarke, who beat the victim to death with a baseball bat, was sentenced to life in prison.

     Every year, police officers in the United States shoot dozens of people who threaten them with baseball bats. More than half of these police involved shoots are fatal.

     In New Castle, Pennsylvania, a former mill town of 26,000 in the west central part of the state not far from the Ohio line, a man attacked women with a baseball bat.

     At nine o'clock in the evening on January 20, 2013 New Castle police responded to a call involving a fight outside a city house. Matthew Green, armed with a baseball bat, was fighting with his girlfriend's son who possessed a metal pipe. According to witnesses, the 49-year-old Green chased the son onto the front porch where he tried to hit him with the bat. Green missed and smashed the porch banister instead. A witness to the fight sprayed mace in Green's face. The bat wielding assailant responded by using the weapon to break his girlfriend's left arm.

     While incarcerated in a holding cell, Matthew Green complained of chest pains, and asked for an ambulance. On his way to the hospital, Green informed the ambulance crew that he had previously suffered a heart attack. Police notified hospital personnel that Green was under arrest for aggravated assault and other crimes. Officers, however, did not accompany him to the hospital.

     Shortly after being admitted, Matthew Green, after faking the heart attack, walked out of the hospital. No one knew where he went. (He could have returned to the scene of the fight and attacked his girlfriend again.) Later that night, officers arrested Green at his home and hauled him to the Lawrence County Jail.

     At Matthew Green's arraignment hearing, the district magistrate set his bond at $1,000. Given the fact this man had used a baseball bat as a deadly weapon, then escaped police custody by faking a heart attack, the judge set Green's bail extremely low. This lenient magistrate might as well have given the alleged assailant a bus ticket to Florida.





  1. Jim, the Green case is interesting to me, not only as a CJ graduate, but also a paramedic. At my agency, we would never have transported a prisoner, even for a minor violation, to the hospital without a police officer in the back of the ambulance. This guy is not only in custody, but clearly violent. Being an ardent supporter of law enforcement I hate to criticize the NCPD, but am very curious as to why they would not have an officer no more than a step away from this guy at all times. I am thinking it was manpower issues, given the fact of the concurrent baseball bat felonies going on....but something should have happened to keep him in custody of an officer.
    Doug Widmer, Pittsburgh PA

  2. The problem with being able to use just about anything as a weapon also brings into play defense. In some situations you have to get a lawyer involved because of how easily any object can be used. The circumstances really decide whether you can be defined by state law as acting in defense so don't act too hastily: ask a lawyer. http://www.wilcoxlaw.ca