The Wednesday hearing for Tom Hazelwood, accused of assault with a deadly weapon that is not a firearm, battery and vandalism, centered around the testimony of the victim, Jack Podsebly.
The hearing began with prosecutor Bill Clark calling Podsebly to the the witness stand.
Podsebly noted that he had known Hazelwood for three years prior to the incident and that Hazelwood had worked for him “from time to time.” They had met through a mutual friend. Hazelwood had been staying on Podsebley’s property for about a year and a half in exchange for Hazelwood’s help.
Questions then shifted to the incident itself, which took place on July 14 of this year. It happened about 800 feet above Podsebley’s house on Wentworth Springs Road near Georgetown, where Hazelwood and his girlfriend lived.
In the months prior, Podsebley and his wife, Helen Steenman, had decided to evict Hazelwood and his girlfriend, Denise Lea. Five days prior to the incident, Hazelwood had been served with a three-day eviction notice.
Podsebly’s attention was grabbed by the sound of Hazelwood’s Volkswagen being stuck on the driveway around 4 p.m., followed by screaming from Hazelwood. Podsebly took the stance of “it’ll calm down, we’ll deal with it later,” he said. He then “heard gunshots from the trailer area” where Hazelwood was staying, about 300 feet from the car.
Podsebly continued to wait. He heard a chainsaw roar to life and cut through something, and heard what he believed to be the crash of a falling tree. It had been about a half-hour since he heard the car. He was “afraid, I didn’t know what was going on,” he said. But, he jumped on his Honda 200 Big Red ATV and went up the driveway.
There he found a group of people, but before he could tell who they were, Hazelwood charged at him down the driveway. “He grabbed the handlebars,” Podsebly testified. “He said, ‘Run me over. You ruined my life.’” Podsebly backed up the ATV, but Hazelwood tackled him off. Podsebly got up, noting he already had a pulled muscle in his leg from before the incident. Hazelwood was already on the ATV and coming at the landlord.
Podsebly was hit and knocked down to the paved driveway. He got up and starting trying to get away while Hazelwood gave chase, Podsebly said. “I had to do something, I had to get out of there,” Podsebly said. He had been hit on his left hip and his ribs were hurting.
As he was moving downhill, Podsebly was hit by the ATV a second time, he said, falling again onto the driveway and now rolling downhill. The leg where he was hit “all messed up.”
He was able to make it to his tractor, where Hazelwood came after him with a leather strap that some of Podsebly’s keys were attached to. Hazelwood whipped it across Podsebly’s face “about three times.” Hazelwood declared he was “going to take the trike,” Podsebly said, and the landlord told his attacker he would go to jail. Hazelwood took the ATV anyway, Podsebly said.
Although Podsebly was unsure of where she came from, he said Lea then attacked him, punching him with her fists. He pushed her back, but she continued hitting him as he made his way down to his house. Hazelwood returned with the ATV, collected Lea, and drove off.
An hour after the incident, Podsebly checked on the the trailer. Two water tanks between his house and the trailer were damaged. Both had what appeared to be holes caused by an axe, with water still pouring out. Together, the tanks, which held over 4,000 gallons, were worth $4,500. A fir tree, about two feet in diameter, had fallen on the trailer, cutting it in half. Podsebly said the tree looked to be cut in a way that would, in falling, aim towards the trailer. He also found the ATV parked at a neighbor’s house down the road.
Helen, in the next day or two, took photos of Podsebly’s injuries and the damage done, which were entered as evidence for the case. The landlord confirmed that he had gone to an emergency room for treatment but was released later in the day.
Hazelwood’s attorney, Robert Banning, began his cross-examination, going over previous testimony. Podsebly reiterated that he was unable to tell who the group of people were, but he felt safer knowing that there were people there. He also testified he was unsure how fast the ATV was going when he was hit.
Under more questions from Clark, Podsebly noted he tried to evade the ATV by moving in a zig-zag pattern. “The ATV is very maneuverable,” he said. “I didn’t want to get run over.” He confirmed that there had been disagreements over the impending eviction in the months leading up to Hazelwood being served with the notice, and Hazelwood had told the landlord that he would leave.
Podsebly was excused from the witness stand and Clark motioned to amend the criminal complaint, adding a charge of carjacking. Banning argued the ATV did not fall under the legal definition of a vehicle, but Judge Douglas C. Phimister added the charge to the complaint. Clark also argued for a protective order for Podsebly and his wife against Hazelwood, which Banning had no objection to. The court issued the order.
Hazelwood will appear in court again on Oct. 26 at 8:30 a.m. in Department 2.
Contact Cole Mayer at 530-344-5068 or email@example.com. Follow @CMayerMtDemo.