Dunbar victim relives baseball bat beating
Two men accused of beating an elderly Fayette County man with baseball bats until the victim pulled a shotgun were held for trial Tuesday.
Nathan Scott Smith, 18, of Scottdale and Sean Henry Garland, 20, of Ruffsdale were ordered held for court on robbery and assault charges during a preliminary hearing before Smock District Judge Dwight Shaner.
State police allege the men beat Stanley Tabaj on Sept. 27 with aluminum baseball bats when they tried to rob Tabaj’s recycling business in Dunbar. They fled when Tabaj grabbed his shotgun.
Tabaj, 74, testified he was seated in a recliner inside his business, Toby Recycling on Elm Grove Road, when the two men walked in and began to beat him with the bats. Smith stunned Tabaj three times with a Taser gun, and the two men demanded money, Tabaj testified.
Tabaj said he feared for his life.
“When I was Tased the third time, I figured it was time to make a move, because they were going to kill me,” Tabaj said. He jumped up from the chair and grabbed a shotgun about 8 feet away.
Tabaj testified the two men ran outside in different directions. He fired a shot at one of them, but didn’t realize until later that he had hit Smith, Tabaj testified.
Tabaj said the bones in his right hand were shattered during the attack. He said he won’t know whether he will need surgery until later this month, when doctors remove a cast on his hand.
Tabaj said his head hurt for three weeks after the attack. He said he sustained bruises and other injuries to his arms, shoulders and one knee. Tabaj said he has not yet returned to work full time.
Trooper Russell Freed testified he found Smith at a Dawson residence, where an ambulance had been summoned for a person with a gunshot wound. Freed testified Smith told him he had been shot by an unknown person while walking on a bike trail.
Freed said Garland went to the Uniontown barracks voluntarily, where he gave a statement indicating he was with Smith during the attack. Freed testified Garland acknowledged he had a bat, but he denied he had used it.
“He said Nathan (Smith) repeatedly hit (Tabaj) with the bat,” Freed testified. “He admitted to having a bat, himself, but was afraid to use it.”
After the hearing, Sean Garland’s father, Timothy Garland, and fiancee, Jeanette Fletcher, said they believe Sean Garland did not hit Tabaj.
“The boy’s admitted to what he did, but he never hit the man,” Timothy Garland said. “I know my son well enough to know that he would never harm an old person.”
Some of those who attended the hearing in support of the defendants wore T-shirts bearing the slogan “Free Sean.”
Smith is being held in the Fayette County Prison in lieu of $125,000 bond, and Garland is being held in lieu of $75,000 bond.