WESTER CHESTER – A man from West Bradford who shot dead two state servicemen who were responding to reports of disaster involving their teenage son has been convicted in a case that was the subject of a lawsuit last week.
A total jury of nine men and three women pondered for just over an hour before returning with the conviction of James Michael Kratz in the trial of Judge Ann Marie Whitcraft on Thursday.
The panel, which heard three days of testimony, including the testimony of two servicemen but not Krats, found the defendant guilty of three separate counts of aggravated assault and simple assault, endangering the welfare of children, terrorist threats, possession of weapons and by careless threat to another person.
None of the servicemen who responded to the house call, nor those who responded later to the scene to take Krats into custody, were injured.
Kratz, 39, was taken to Chester County Jail after sentencing after Whitcraft overturned a $ 50,000 bail. He will remain in custody pending sentencing later this year. He had previously been convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol, violating the order of protection against abuse and harassment.
In his defense, Kratz’s lawyer claimed that the only shot Kratz fired on the night of the incident was not intended to harm anyone, and that he fired into the air to warn people who he believed were intruders on his property. He could not identify those who were near his house as police officers because they were illuminating him with bright light.
“All he sees is to remove the light that illuminates his house, spot lights,” said Public Defender’s Assistant Samir Barkavi in his closing remarks to the jury. “It was a warning shot. If he tried to harm the people he was shooting at, he would have aimed differently. “
But the prosecution argued that jurors could drop everything that happened on the night of the incident to hand down Kratz’s conviction: that he had a violent quarrel with his son, that he threatened a child and his mother, that he said police were near the house, and that the gunfire itself was evidence of intent to cause harm.
“This pistol, a .44 Magnum, was designed to inflict bodily harm,” said Assistant District Attorney Zakhari Yurik, who was dealing with Assistant District Attorney Daniel Jarnal. “It doesn’t matter (that the military) wasn’t hurt. When it was in his wind and he intended to injure people outside his home, he committed a crime. ”
Kratz was found guilty of attempted grievous bodily harm, assault on a police officer under aggravating circumstances and assault with a deadly weapon. The first charge of assault is a first-degree crime, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 to 20 years in prison.
This is the second time in less than a month that a Chester County man has been convicted of assault in an incident when police were called to a home to unravel a domestic incident. On April 1, a jury found Stephen Buxton, a military veteran of Eastern Goshen, guilty of attempted aggravated assault for making 13 shots fired at an emergency response team near his home. He was acquitted on charges of attempted murder, and jurors came to a standstill on other charges of assault.
According to court testimony and sworn testimony filed by military Tyler Albee in the Kratz case, military Mark Malantonia and Zachary Cades responded to a call for help at Kratz’s house on Steeple Chase Road in West Bradford around midnight on February 27, 2021. .
Kratz’s ex-wife called police after his son told her he was scared because Kratz acted irrationally, interrogated him as a “training instructor,” threatening to kill his stepfather, and argued with him about the school he attended.
When the military arrived, they saw Krats standing in his front door. They ordered him to leave the house, to which Kratz replied, “Get off my property, or I’ll shoot,” Albee said in a statement. Then they heard a loud bang and hid.
When the military shouted for Kratz to drop his weapon and leave the house, they heard another bag, which was later identified as one shot from a .44 Magnum Kratz pistol. He also had a gun and a rifle in the doorway. Albee said the muzzle flash Malantonia saw from the doorway indicates that firearms were aimed at him and Cades.
Kratz’s son, who was 13 at the time, was able to get out through the read door of the house and was taken to a safe place in a neighbor’s house. Kratz was taken into custody unharmed when state police arrived on the scene.
To contact full-time writer Michael P. Relahan, call 610-696-1544.