The Phoenix Reporter & Item (http://www.phoenixvillenews.com)

Royersford man jailed for stabbing girlfriend


By Carl Hessler Jr., chessler@pottsmerc.com

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

NORRISTOWN – Calling a Royersford man’s relationship with his girlfriend a “recipe for bloodshed,” a judge sent the man to jail for stabbing the woman in the back during a domestic disturbance.
“It was the recipe for bloodshed. There was a lot of volatility in that home,” Montgomery County Judge Wendy Demchick-Alloy said Monday as she sentenced 60-year-old Matthew Harmon, of the 200 block of Main Street, to 11½ to 23 months in the county jail.
Harmon also must complete five years’ probation after he’s paroled from jail and must complete domestic violence, anger management and drug and alcohol counseling programs as conditions of the sentence.
“I strongly advise you to stay away from this woman,” Demchick-Alloy told Harmon, sternly reminding him he is to have no offensive contact with the victim of the stabbing.
The judge also ordered Harmon to continue attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings in jail and after he’s paroled.
In July, Harmon pleaded guilty to a felony charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, admitting that he stabbed the woman with a steak knife during a domestic dispute in the early morning hours of April 27 in the Main Street residence.
The woman suffered a laceration, between 2- and 3-inches in length, on her lower right back and was treated at Paoli Hospital after the assault, police said. Authorities found the steak knife under a couch in the Royersford residence.
The woman told police Harmon stabbed her during an argument and as she tried to leave the residence, according to the arrest affidavit filed by Royersford Police Officer Kyle Heffernan.
A day after Harmon’s guilty plea, the judge revoked Harmon’s bail because authorities uncovered that he violated two previous court orders to stay away from the victim. Testimony revealed the woman had been at Harmon’s residence on July 17. The woman also attended Harmon’s bail revocation hearing where she asked the judge to lift the court order barring Harmon from having contact with her.
At that time, Demchick-Alloy refused to lift the stay away order, saying she was concerned for the woman’s safety and that Harmon couldn’t be trusted to be near the woman.
Harmon’s girlfriend, with whom he has a child, was not in court on Monday. However, Harmon told the judge that his wife of 40 years was in the courtroom to support him.
The judge and prosecutors characterized Harmon’s relationship with the victim as “toxic.”
“This was a combustible mix of ingredients. It was boiling up for a period of time. Add in alcohol and weapons and this is what results,” said Assistant District Attorney Alec O’Neill, who leads the district attorney’s domestic violence prosecution unit.
Testimony previously revealed police had responded to the Royersford residence in the past to quell domestic-related disturbances.
Defense lawyer Dennis Caglia argued Harmon did not have a significant arrest record, was a U.S. Army veteran and someone willing to seek treatment for substance abuse issues. Caglia also argued the victim knew the conditions of Harmon’s previous bail orders and despite that still chose to have contact with Harmon.
“Not only is he interested in getting treatment but he has sought treatment,” said Caglia, referring to substance abuse treatment Harmon sought through the Veterans Administration. “I believe this period of incarceration has gotten my client’s attention.”
Harmon, indicating he’s had several months in jail to reflect on his conduct, apologized.
“I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life. But I’m not a person who would intentionally hurt someone. I really didn’t mean to harm anyone that night. I’m really sorry that she got hurt,” said Harmon. “I’m a Christian man. I believe in doing right. I believe in doing good things.”
Follow Carl Hessler Jr. on Twitter @MontcoCourtNews