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Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The trouble started with a bet over a bottle of urine.

Brian Hamedl was playing poker in an all-night game with Kyle Tarboro at a Bethlehem Township home April 1, 2010, when he told Tarboro he had urine stored in his vehicle that Tarboro could use to cheat on a drug test.

They bet $300 on whether Hamedl actually had the urine, and when the poker game wrapped up, Tarboro demanded the money or the urine. When Hamedl told him the bet was absurd, Tarboro allegedly delivered a beating that left Hamedl in the hospital for four days and stole a roll of cash from Hamedl's pocket.

When police arrived about 7 a.m. and found Hamedl semi-conscious inside the house in the 5000 block of Country Top Trail, Tarboro told officers that two men had burst into the house and attacked Hamedl.

A Northampton County jury on Tuesday delivered a split verdict, finding Tarboro guilty of simple assault, false imprisonment and making false reports to police. The panel acquitted him of robbery, aggravated assault, theft and receiving stolen property. Judge Paula Roscioli also found Tarboro guilty of a summary charge of harassment.

In his closing argument, defense attorney Alex Karam Jr. told the jury to focus on the holes in Hamedl's story. Karam noted that Hamedl testified he had been drinking for about 9-1/2 hours before he was assaulted.

Hamedl also testified that he had withdrawn money from an ATM before he went to the party, but never produced a receipt or bank records, Karam noted.

Karam also questioned the investigation, noting that police had no photos of the blood on Tarboro's knuckles and shirt that officers testified about during the trial.

He recounted the testimony of another man charged in the fracas, Keith Anthony, who said he never saw Tarboro hit Hamedl or take anything from his pockets.

"Where's the robbery? Where's the assault?" Karam asked the jury.

"It's not very often I stand before a jury and talk about bets over urine," Assistant District Attorney Robert Eyer said, telling the jury that as unusual as the case might appear, the facts they needed to convict Tarboro were simple.

Witnesses testified they saw Tarboro follow Hamedl out of the house and force him back inside.

"It was a clear message," Eyer said. "You're going back in the house."

According to Eyer, inside the house, Anthony and Hamedl got into a fight and Hamedl ran out the back door, Hamedl and Anthony testified. Tarboro chased him and hit him at least twice, Hamedl said, noting he lost consciousness after two blows.

A neighbor who called police testified she saw Tarboro drag Hamedl back into the house, Eyer said.

"He did this as described by the witnesses and corroborated by the evidence," Eyer said. "Within minutes he got caught. He got caught with blood on his knuckles, blood on his shirt and a wad of cash in his pocket. It's a simple set of facts."

Anthony, 31, of Bethlehem pleaded guilty in September to simple assault and was sentenced to nine to 23 months in prison. Tarboro, 36, of Bethlehem remains in jail under $75,000 bail and is scheduled to be sentenced June 24.

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