A Patton Township resident charged with aggravated assault and other offenses was acquitted on all counts after a trial Tuesday.
Robert Balmforth, 33, was found not guilty by a jury of two counts of felony aggravated assault and one count each of misdemeanor simple assault and reckless endangerment. The charges stemmed from an incident on Oct. 27, when he was accused of throwing a knife at a female roommate.
Balmforth’s public defender, Casey McClain, said in opening statements that Balmforth had been battling depression and anxiety in the weeks prior to the incident. Balmforth said events that night inadvertently spared his life. He was going through a rough patch over the loss of a family member and other issues and planned to use the knife on himself.
“She indirectly saved my life that night,” Balmforth said of the roommate. “I’m thankful to her and very apologetic to her and her family.”
Testimonies from Balmforth, the roommate and a police officer depicted the events that night. The roommate took the stand first and said that she returned to the Patton Township residence, which she shared with Balmforth and another person, from work about 10 p.m. Balmforth was in his room, and she and the other roommate decided to go out for food, she said. As they left, she said she heard the sounds of objects moving upstairs. Upon returning, she found that a nightstand and TV had been removed.
The items belonged to Balmforth, she said, but she was upset that he entered her room without permission. She went to his room and opened the door to find Balmforth in bed with a knife in his hands. She told Balmforth in a normal speaking voice that he should respect her space. Balmforth then screamed at her, called her a name and made a sudden movement with the knife. She slammed the door and said she immediately heard the knife strike the door and felt the impact. She then left the residence and called police.
Balmforth said he didn’t intend to scare or hurt her. She opened the door as he was about to cut his wrist and he didn’t throw the knife at her, but threw it so she wouldn’t see what he was trying to do.
Assistant District Attorney Lindsay Foster, who prosecuted the case, argued that Balmforth’s testimony was an excuse and an attempt to garner sympathy, and Balmforth acted out of anger that evening. The only thing that prevented serious injury was when the woman slammed the door, she said.