On any normal day, Douglas Lawson would travel to the Home Depot in King of Prussia to pick up supplies for his work. He has his own contracting company and often patronizes the store.
It was on Thursday morning when Lawson, 42, of the 1600 block of Knob Lane, Valley Forge, Schuylkill Township, arrived at the Home Depot just before 10 a.m. to pick up some supplies for a job. However, a half-hour later, Lawson was confronted by his neighbor, Philip Costantini, and was shot in the abdomen by a Colt .380 semiautomatic handgun.
Attorney Timothy Woodward said Friday that his client, Costantini, did not follow Lawson to the Home Depot, but he did not know the circumstances as to how and why Lawson was in the store.
Lawson's attorney, Jim Freeman, said he heard of the shooting Thursday afternoon and spoke to Lawson later that evening.
"Doug is very lucky right now," said Freeman. "The bullet apparently went in and out of him. He's resting as well as he can for the moment in Hahnemann University Hospital." Lawson was listed in good condition on Friday.
Woodward said Costantini is very upset. "He's absolutely devastated that he is separated from his wife of 44 years," Woodward said. Costantini is in prison and is doing as well as he can be, Woodward said.
Whether or not Costantini has a mental condition is not known. "I don't see any manifestation of mental illness, but I'll leave that to the experts," Woodward added.
Costantini was arraigned before District Justice William Maruszczak Thursday afternoon on charges of criminal attempt at criminal homicide; aggravated assault; simple assault; recklessly endangering another person; and possessing an instrument of crime. He was sent to county prison on $1 million cash bail.
Freeman said charges of defiant trespass; criminal trespass; theft by unlawful taking; harassment; and three counts of criminal mischief are still pending against Costantini stemming from his court appearance in Phoenixville on October 23, 2003.
Lawson testified on Oct. 23 that he had discovered on Sept. 4, via videotape surveillance, that Costantini was walking on his property several times, removing bountry flags.
"Doug and his wife were smart to install the home surveillance system to their house," Freeman said. "The videotapes clearly showed Costantini was on their property several times after Doug had told him to never come on his property again."
A relative of the Lawsons told the court she was visiting on Sept. 6, when she noticed Costantini was walking along the property line, however, he then stood behind the Lawsons' Mazda, which was parked on their property.
Freeman said the Costantinis have been upset since the zoning board hearing on March 18, when Lawson requested a variance to convert his garage into a den and then add a three-car garage. The board granted Lawson the variance to convert the garage on April 1, but denied his request to add the three-car garage.
"Since that time, the Lawsons have been hostages in their own home," he said. "It's a shame to have to live like that."
Woodward said Costantini had a very different view of the ongoing situation. "Mr. Costantini was and is terrified of Mr. Lawson and has been for quite some time," Woodward said. "Mr. Lawson has threatened, harassed and terrified Mr. Costantini (and his wife)."
Schuylkill Township police have responded to both the Lawson and Costantini residences on numerous occasions since April 17; however, Freeman said the Costantinis initiated judicial proceedings by accusing Lawson of harassment and stalking over an incident on June 9.
"He (Costantini) claimed that Doug was following him to the NAPA Auto Parts store in Phoenixville on that day," he said. "It just so happened that was one of many errands that Doug was running that day. In fact, Doug stayed in the store in attempts to avoid Costantini, but it didn't work. Doug went to the post office, Super Fresh and Home Depot, and kept all of his receipts."
Although District Justice Ted Michaels held the charges over for trial, Freeman said all of the charges against Lawson were "nol'-pros' and later dismissed."
"His record has already been expunged of that incident," he said.