Man convicted of reckless endangerment

By Carl Hessler Jr.

An East Norriton man who allegedly walked throughout the township with a shotgun for several hours after a domestic disturbance endangered others with his conduct, a judge has determined.

Derek M. Canessa, 23, of Spring House Lane, was convicted in Montgomery County Court of a misdemeanor charge of recklessly endangering other persons in connection with a January incident in the township.

Judge Thomas C. Branca rendered the verdict after hearing testimony during a one-day, non-jury trial.

"It was dark and this guy was running around yards with a gun. He could have tripped in the dark. It could have discharged. This kind of behavior will not be tolerated. It's outrageous," alleged Assistant District Attorney Wallis Brooks. "Police did an outstanding job of responding to the scene and attempting to secure the safety of the neighborhood."

The judge acquitted Canessa of charges of terroristic threats and public drunkenness in connection with the incident.

Canessa, who is represented by defense lawyer Jonathan Krinick, remains free on bail pending his sentencing hearing. The judge deferred sentencing so that court officials can complete a background investigative report about Canessa.

Canessa faces a possible maximum sentence of one to two years in prison on the charge. However, state sentencing guideline also would allow for a probationary sentence.

Testimony revealed that Canessa became involved in an argument with a relative at his home about 1 a.m. Jan. 5 during which Canessa armed himself with his shotgun.

Arriving police set up a perimeter around the neighborhood but police soon learned that Canessa had left the home on foot, according to court papers and testimony.

Police eventually learned that Canessa, still carrying the gun and a gun case, had briefly stopped by a friend's home in Plymouth. The friend, testimony revealed, tried to convince Canessa to stay at the home or to leave the gun, but Canessa refused and left on foot.

Police used a K-9 unit to attempt to locate Canessa in the Plymouth area, picked up a scent but soon lost the scent, testimony revealed.

Another friend of Canessa's testified that Canessa also stopped by his Pinecrest Road home in East Norriton during the night. Testimony revealed that when Canessa left that home he left the gun behind.

Police ultimately took Canessa into custody without further incident when he returned to his Spring House Lane home at 4 a.m. testimony revealed. Prosecutors alleged police ultimately found the gun at the Pinecrest Road home of Canessa's friend and that ammunition was next to it.

Krinick argued the gun was not loaded and was inside the gun case from the moment Canessa left his home.

In acquitting Canessa of terroristic threats the judge did not find evidence that Canessa made verbal threats to shoot the gun as police and prosecutors alleged. The judge determined there was not sufficient evidence to support the prosecution's contention that Canessa was intoxicated during the incident.

Police from Lower Providence, Whitpain, Upper Merion and Plymouth assisted with the investigation.

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