Gruesome Details Emerge in Hearing for Man Accused of Stabbing Franklin Woman

| January 10, 2018

SHIPPENVILLE, Pa. (EYT) – District Judge Timothy Schill ordered all charges held for court against a Clarion man who is accused of stabbing his girlfriend several times during a dispute at a Clarion apartment in December.

James Ryan Edwards, 40, of Clarion and formerly of Franklin, will face the following charges in Clarion County Court of Common Pleas:

– Criminal Attempt – Criminal Homicide
– Aggravated Assault, Felony 1
– Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon, Felony 2
– Resist Arrest/Other Law Enforcement, Misdemeanor 2
– Simple Assault, Misdemeanor 2

The aggravated assault with a deadly weapon charge was added after a request by District Attorney Mark Aaron.

DA Aaron called Clarion Borough Police Officer Christopher Fox and the victim, a 40-year-old Franklin woman, to testify.

The victim, who looked visibly fearful as she testified, explained how the night had begun.

She said that the two knew each other from years ago when they both lived in Franklin. The victim knew Edwards’ sister. She said they began to date about 17 or 18 months ago.

“We had made plans to get together that night (December 9) and watch Harry Potter. We had exchanged texts during the day, saying “I love you” to each other,” she said. “But, when I was on my way from Franklin to Clarion, he texted me not to come. He said he just wanted to be alone, and he said ‘Not tonight, Bum, Bum.’”

She explained “Bum” was his pet name for her.

At that point, the woman began to cry, and Aaron asked for a five-minute break, which Schill granted.

When testimony started again, the victim said she arrived at Edwards’ apartment and ended up going through a street-level window that was covered with plastic to keep the air out.

“He had broken the window months ago, and we used plastic to keep the air out. Sometimes I would go through the window if I arrived, and he wasn’t there.”

The woman said the evening was going fine, they were watching Harry Potter and had made a pizza. She said he also said she could stay the night if she wanted to.

But, Edwards was also allegedly drinking vodka. The woman wasn’t sure how much.

“At one point, I was sitting on the floor, and he (James) was sitting behind me when he said he felt like sticking an ax through the back of my head. I said to him ‘Just do it,’ and he then threw a plastic plate at me, and it hit me in the head.”

When the woman asked Edwards why he did it, he replied, “You accepted the challenge.”

DA Aaron asked her what she thought he meant, and she said she believed he meant that when she said “Just do it” he took it to mean “Go ahead.”

At that point, the woman said she got up and moved away from Edwards, and he told her to take her stuff and leave. She said he told her to take the Christmas tree with her, and he then threw it at her.

She then said he left, and she saw him go to his dresser and open the top drawer. She said she didn’t see him get a knife, but he cut himself on his left arm. She said he then tried to wipe the blood on her, and she screamed before getting out of the apartment where he followed her outside.

“He stabbed me while I was on the porch. He stabbed me behind my ear, the scar is still there. He stabbed me five times in the neck and twice in the upper arm when I tried to protect myself.”

The woman said he just stopped stabbing and went back inside the apartment while she held her hand to her neck wound, trying to slow the bleeding and calling 911.

“He hit my jugular vein, and I was in a lot of pain, but I got down off the porch and called 911 about four times before I got through. A stranger walked past, and he stayed with me until the police arrived because I was afraid I’d pass out.”

She then explained how emergency medical technicians arrived and took her to the emergency room at Clarion Hospital, so she could be stabilized before she was flown to a Pittsburgh hospital.

“I was there for five days and had three surgeries,” she said. “I was on a feeding tube for two weeks, and I am still having physical therapy so I can learn how to eat hard food.”

Fox, who is a full-time deputy sheriff in Clarion County and a part-time officer with Clarion Borough, talked about the night of the stabbing and his role in the case.

Officer Christopher Fox and Clarion University Police officers Corbin Ragley and Jeff Slagle were called to the residence after the victim called Clarion County 911 and reported that she had been stabbed in the neck by Edwards.

When police arrived, the victim – who was found outside holding her neck – told officers that Edwards was in the apartment.

Fox explained that CUP Public Safety Officer Jeff Slagle assisted the victim while Officers Fox and Ragley prepared to make entry into the residence.

Police discovered that the door was locked, and Officer Ragley kicked it in to gain entry.

“I shouted ‘Clarion Police’ in the residence and got no response,” Officer Fox in the criminal complaint.

The officers began searching the residence and found Edwards kneeling in the bathroom with his arms in the sink.

“I yelled at Edwards to get on the ground, and he just kneeled there in a daze,” Officer Fox said.

Officer Fox then instructed Edwards to get on the ground again, and he complied.

At this point, Officer Fox noticed a knife on the bathroom floor and told Edwards to “crawl out of the bathroom and get away from the weapon.”

Fox said Edwards replied, “(Expletive) you I wanna die, so just let me (expletive) die.”

“Officer Ragley had his gun drawn and covered me while I put medical exam gloves on, so I could give medical attention to Edwards,” Fox said.

Edwards had multiple “slashes” on his wrist and a cut on his neck.

“I told Edwards to lay in the hallway and not to move, so I could start applying medical attention to his neck wound since it was pouring out blood,” Fox said.

Edwards allegedly replied, “(Expletive) you guys; I want to die, just leave me be.”

Edwards allegedly continued, “I’m just going to have you guys kill me.”

“I told Edwards that I did not want to do that,” Fox said.

Fox then said that Edwards started to get up on his feet and charged at him and Ragley.

Fox deployed his taser and hit Edwards in the chest area with two probes causing him to fall to the ground in the hallway.

“I told Edwards to remain still and not to make any more sudden movements, or he will be tased again,” Fox said.

Edwards then attempted to harm himself further and blood began to pour into the hallway.

Officer Fox used a package of “Quick Clot” to help stop the bleeding on Edward’s neck.

Fox said Edwards began resisting again as he tried to apply pressure to his neck.

At this time, multiple Pennsylvania state police troopers began to enter the residence to assist with the incident.

Shippenville-Elk Township Ambulance arrived on scene and tended to Edwards. He was then flown to a Pittsburgh-area hospital for treatment of injuries to his neck and wrists.

After he was cleared by doctors in Pittsburgh, Clarion Borough Police transported Edwards back to Clarion County where he was arraigned and then placed in the county jail.

After a search warrant was issued by on-call District Judge Timothy P. Schill, police found a black-handled, lock-blade knife with what was believed to be blood on it, according to the criminal complaint.

The knife was found in the bathroom where police first encountered Edwards, according to the criminal complaint.

The Pennsylvania State Police Bureau of Records & Identification Unit was called to process the scene.

Chief Peck commended his officers and Clarion University Police for the way they handled the situation.

“I commend the officers for how they handled a very stressful situation,” said Chief Peck during a previous phone interview with exploreClarion.com.

“I also appreciate the assistance of the Clarion University Police and the Pennsylvania State Police and their forensics unit.”

No police officers were injured in the incident, according to Chief Peck.

Edwards’ attorney, public defender Erich Spessard, requested that the charges of attempted homicide and resisting arrest be dismissed, but Aaron disagreed.

Judge Schill did as well, and Edwards will face all five charges.

Edwards remains lodged in the Clarion County Jail, unable to post $250,000.00 cash bail.


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