HOLLIDAYSBURG — An Altoona man charged in September 2020 with shooting a shotgun at a woman as she walked away from their residence is on trial this week in Blair County Court, charged with attempted murder. homicide, aggravated assault, reckless endangerment and related charges.
Christopher D. Riddle-Hatcher, 36, disputes charges brought against him by Altoona police after investigating a “shots fired” report and find Riddle-Hatcher with shotgun in hand and shell casings on the ground.
The woman, found that night at a nearby convenience store, has not cooperated with police and is unlikely to testify, Assistant District Attorney Ian Hausner told jurors Monday during her opening.
He also said that before the end of the trial, he would provide enough testimony and evidence to overcome any reasonable doubt and convict the defendant.
“A trial is very much like a puzzle, and I can’t give you all the pieces,” he said. “But what I can provide you with is enough parts for you to know what was going on.”
Defense attorney Mark Zearfaus warned jurors they would not hear enough evidence to convict his client.
“You won’t hear of any injuries” said Zearfaus.
Riddle-Hatcher and the woman were in a boyfriend-girlfriend relationship, Zearfaus said, and early on she told police she wanted nothing to do with it.
“She’s the biggest piece of the puzzle” said the defense attorney.
Hausner called six witnesses to the stand on Monday, including former Altoona police officer Timothy Campolong, who was five blocks away when he was sent to the 1500 block of Third Avenue to investigate the “shots fired” relationship and possible domestic conflict.
Campolong, whose testimony was supplemented by body camera video, admitted to pointing his revolver at Riddle-Hatcher and ordering him to drop his shotgun. Instead, (Riddle-Hatcher) reached inside the door of his residence and placed the gun there, Campolong said.
Campolong and patrol officer Noah Bollman, who helped arrest Riddle-Hatcher, said Riddle-Hatcher accused the woman of calling the police.
“He said that she had denounced him” said Bolman.
On the video, Riddle-Hatcher can be heard saying: “I don’t understand what I did. …Am I being arrested?
The video also showed Bollman asking Riddle-Hatcher about the blood on his hands and Bollman replied: “I was typing something” with later testimony indicating it was a mirror.
Other officers who responded to the scene and searched the residence described the messy apartment furnishings.
Riddle-Hatcher told police he and the woman had an argument and she should be contacted to “clarify” What happened.
Criminal charges filed by police against Riddle-Hatcher accuse him of firing the shotgun at the woman’s vehicle, halfway up the driver’s side door and just behind the door handle as she attempted to leave the property.
Police picked up paint chips from vehicles that were on the ground. The chips contained holes like those found in the woman’s vehicle, he said. Police also found a shotgun shell and a loaded shell on the ground. Four additional rounds were found inside the shotgun.
Officer Caleb Nixon also testified about a clump of hair that was recovered from the apartment. When Hausner asked Nixon about the hair, Zearfaus raised an objection which left Nixon describing the hair as brown, the same color as the woman’s. Nixon later testified that a necklace of red strings was intertwined with the tuft of hair.
Judge Timothy M. Sullivan, who is presiding over the trial set to last through Thursday, is also expected to rule early Wednesday on whether Hausner can present to the jury taped statements Riddle-Hatcher allegedly made to the woman within the two last weeks.
After dismissing the jury, Sullivan heard demands for proposed testimony on the taped statements, including one in which Riddle-Hatcher allegedly told the woman: “If they can prove I fired the shotgun, then I get fried.”
Zearfaus countered that such a statement is nothing more than a statement. “It’s not a confession” Zearfaus told the judge.
Mirror Staff Writer Kay Stephens is at 814-946-7456.