Both sides agreed on one thing at the trial of a woman accused of assaulting an ex-boyfriend in Ferguson Township last year: the event that led to the charges was steeped in manipulation.
The consensus ended there. Prosecutors maintained that Hannah Matos, 29, was the manipulator, while Matos’ public defender, Patrick Klena, argued that it was the accuser.
At the end, the jury believed the prosecution and returned guilty verdicts on two felony counts of aggravated assault and a misdemeanor simple assault charge. She was acquitted of stalking and terroristic threats charges.
Matos was arrested last June, accused of hitting the man twice across the back with a belt, then with a hammer at her Aaron Drive home and chasing him down a bike path at Tudek Memorial Park in her Ford Explorer when he attempted to flee.
Matos and the ex-boyfriend each testified and offered different stories of how the events transpired.
The man said a week after he broke up with her, on the evening of June 12, 2014, they went to her home so she could get photos from his cellphone. The man said Matos turned the conversation to the breakup and she became upset.
He testified that she left the house, and he stayed because she had left her then-11-year-old son there. The next morning, when she returned, the man said Matos had calmed down, and he was going to transfer the photos. Matos then “embraced” the man for 40 minutes to prevent him from leaving.
She let go when he gave her his cellphone, which she refused to return. As he was leaving to call police, the man said she hit him in the back twice with a belt, then grabbed a hammer and swung it at him several times, eventually hitting his arm, when he took the tool and ran. She followed him to the park and on the bike path in her SUV before the man said he jumped a fence and called police from an apartment office.
During her testimony, Matos denied touching, threatening or following the man. She said that she actually broke up with him and asked him to leave the night before, and she went to a friend’s house when he refused. She returned in the morning and the man tried to talk about the end of the relationship.
He eventually left, and she decided to drive to a grocery store. She pulled into the park after she felt a panic attack coming on, and the man showed up next to her vehicle. She said she mistakenly drove down the bike path in an effort to get away.
Police responded to the home shortly after the man called on June 13, and officers testified that Matos was not cooperative.
One of the officers said Matos accused him of hitting her, which was found to be untrue, and that she claimed she was having panic and asthma attacks and demanded to be taken to the hospital. She was cleared by paramedics and hospital staff, the officers testified.
Klena asked her why she responded the way she did, and she responded she is “scared of the police.”
Assistant District Attorney Jessica Lathrop asked why she would leave her son at the home. Matos said he was asleep upstairs and the boy and her former lover had a good rapport.
Lathrop also scrutinized the statement about fear of police, producing documentation of Matos calling police multiple times before and after the incident. Lathrop also brought up a no contest plea Matos entered in February on making false reports to officers about an ex-boyfriend’s alleged PFA violation.
Court documents indicate that Matos called the other man, and she was sentenced to a year’s probation.
Klena asked the jury to ignore all the “extraneous” information and to focus on the charges.
The only testimony that supports the man’s claims of an attack is from the man himself, Klena said. No one witnessed the assault, the police report indicated no injuries and there were no photos of any, Klena argued.
“If what he said happened happened to him, you’d see welts on his back or bruises on his arm,” Klena said to the jury. “They aren’t there because it didn’t happen.”
Lathrop closed by pointing to Matos’ behavior immediately after the incident as indicative of guilt and a way of trying to avoid blame.
“This is about personal responsibility, accountability and this is her day of reckoning,” Lathrop said during closing arguments. “She cannot manipulate you.”
Judge Jonathan D. Grine also found Matos guilty of a summary harassment charge. She was free on bail, but prosecutors asked that Matos be taken into custody in lieu of $150,000. Over Klena’s objections, Grine set bail at $125,000, and Matos was taken to Centre County Correctional Facility.
Sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 6.