West Virginia assault suspects' kin question police accounts
The fathers of two young Rockland men charged in connection with the brutal beating of a Texas man in Morgan, W. Va., last week defended their sons Sunday, maintaining initial police accounts were exaggerated or distorted.
Frank Soto, of West Haverstraw, said his family was shocked at the sudden turn in the promising future of his 18-year-old son, Franklyn Soto, a student at Rockland Community College.
"My son is not a troublemaker," he said. "We're all devastated. We love our son. He's got way too many friends. Perhaps that night, he ended up with the wrong guys."
Police said Matthew Tovar, of Corpus Christi, Texas, was beaten unconscious by five men at about 2:40 a.m. Wednesday. Officials said that members of the group continued to kick Tovar in the head and body even after he was unconscious on the ground.
Charged with malicious wounding are: Franklyn Soto; Dominick J. Posillipo, 19, of Garnerville; Christian Ascolese, 20, of Stony Point; Ryan Herbert, 21, of Morgantown, W. Va.; and Tyler Garguilo, 19, of Paramus, N.J.
Posillipo's father, also named Dominick Posillipo, said that after hearing his son was in jail and the victim was on life support, he made frantic calls to Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown to check on the victim's condition.
"My life is flashing before my eyes," he said. "I'm praying this guy is OK."
To his surprise, he was connected to Tovar, who was able to talk, the senior Posillipo said.
"I'm crying my eyes out," the elder Dominick Posillipo said. "This guy's alive. My son is not going to jail for manslaughter."
Since then, Tovar, initially listed in critical condition, has been released from the hospital, officials said.
Soto was being held in lieu of $250,000 bond at North Central Regional Jail in Greenwood, W. Va. The others were being held in lieu of $500,000 bond except Ascolese, who was freed on $25,000 cash bail.
Morgantown police are asking people to come forward with cellphone video they may have shot of the beating. The assault was caught on a business surveillance camera, but Police Chief Ed Preston said he won't release it because it's evidence in an active investigation.
Tovar was in the area to work on a natural gas drilling operation, Preston said.
Frank Soto said that in the confrontation outside a bar in downtown Morgantown, Tovar took a swing at his son.
"He was the one who punched my son first," he said.
The elder Dominick Posillipo said his son and the others were being held with hardened criminals and that there's no possibility of a reduction in bond until a Sept. 4 pretrial hearing.
A call to Soto's lawyer, Thomas Kroger, was not immediately returned. Posillipo has no attorney yet, his father said. Attempts to reach Ascolese and his legal representative were unsuccessful.
Efforts to reach Tovar also were unsuccessful.
With The Associated Press