CLEARFIELD – A Grampian man was found guilty of entering a local railroad office building without permission after his trial on Tuesday.
Nathan James McFarland, 32, was on trial after being charged by Officer Shawn M. Fye of the Clearfield Borough police with criminal trespass/enter structure, a third-degree felony.
The case was prosecuted by District Attorney William A. Shaw Jr. McFarland was represented by defense attorney Chris Pentz. President Judge Fredric Ammerman presided over the trial.
Jurors heard from two R.J. Corman Railroad employees, James Evans and Aaron Smith, plus Fye about an incident that occurred at approximately 10:30 p.m. – 11 p.m. Oct. 15, 2017.
Evans explained that part of his job duties is to assist with hiring. On Oct. 13, 2017, he said McFarland came into the railroad office to submit an employment application.
He said after McFarland completed the application, he verbally provided his work history. Evans went over the hiring process and said he’d be in touch if McFarland was selected for an interview.
Two days later on Oct. 15, 2017, he said McFarland was seen in the railroad office around 7 a.m. – 8 a.m. He was rifling through documents on the desk.
Evans said he asked McFarland if he could help him with something. Through conversation he said McFarland appeared to be under the impression that he’d been hired.
He reiterated the interview and hiring process to McFarland again. He asked him to leave, and McFarland did so without any further incident.
Later that evening around 10:30 p.m. – 11 p.m., Evans received a call from Smith. He said Smith was with a male individual at the railroad crew office and wanted to verify his employment.
Evans advised Smith that the male, identified as McFarland, had not been hired and was not permitted to be there. Evens proceeded to go to the office and called police while en route.
Under cross-examination, Evans admitted that he didn’t personally see McFarland at the railroad building during the late-night hours on Oct. 15, 2017.
Smith testified next and detailed his encounter with McFarland that night. He said McFarland was wearing a hard hat and vest in the crew office/locker area.
Smith said he didn’t recognize the male and began to inquire about what department he worked for. He called Evans and determined he was not a current employee.
Smith asked McFarland to leave the premises and to leave behind any items that did not belong to him. He left behind the hard hat, vest and a lunch bucket.
Both Evans and Smith confirmed for jurors that the R.J. Corman Railroad offices, located in Clearfield Borough, were not open to the public on the date and time of the incident.
Smith also testified that “something was off” with McFarland, and he appeared to be under the influence. He said McFarland spoke with slurred speech and it was confusing to converse with him.
Smith concluded his testimony by saying there wasn’t any doubt in his mind that the male individual in the crew office on the night in question was McFarland.
Fye was then offered for the purpose of cross-examination. He said as part of his investigation, he didn’t collect any DNA or fingerprints from the scene.
Fye said he didn’t have any surveillance video of McFarland inside the railroad offices. He also didn’t conduct a photo “line-up” of possible suspects and present them to Evans and Smith.
The commonwealth rested its case Monday morning, and the defense didn’t present any witnesses with McFarland opting not to testify on his own behalf.
During his closing, Pentz argued that the commonwealth’s case “reeked” with reasonable doubt. He said there wasn’t any attempt made to collect DNA or fingerprints, and there wasn’t any video.
He said when Evans and Smith were asked to identify the male “who did it,” there wasn’t anyone for them to point to in the courtroom, but McFarland.
“The officer didn’t even do a photo line-up,” Pentz said. “I’m not asking for CSI Clearfield.” He reminded jurors that the burden of proof falls on the commonwealth and to use their common sense.
Shaw countered, saying the employees didn’t have any doubt that McFarland was the male there without permission. He argued that McFarland was actually the “only logical person.”
Shaw also pointed out that the commonwealth doesn’t have any burden to collect DNA and fingerprints, a process that is costly and one that was unnecessary in this case.