LEWISTOWN - A man charged with attempted murder and other related offenses broke down during a preliminary hearing on Tuesday after his mother took the stand to testify her son made incriminating statements to her on the night police discovered a woman severely beaten at her home on West Fourth Street in Lewistown.
Michael Bickel, 27, of Lewistown, is alleged to have repeatedly struck a 31-year-old woman in the head with a hammer in the early morning hours of July 8.
Following Tuesday's hearing, Bickel's case was bound over to the Mifflin County Court of Common Pleas for trial.
Bickel's mother, Christeena Kearns, testified her son called her on the night of the assault for a ride after 2 a.m. and she picked him up near the Buchanan Elementary School.
"I believe the first thing he said to me was 'I think I just killed (her),'" Kearns said.
Kearns said her son then stated, "You need to be quiet. I need to call 911."
"He said to me, 'I lost it, I hit her with a hammer,'" she continued.
Kearns said she encouraged her son to turn himself in to police, but he wanted to "run and hide."
Kearns testified her son told her to drop him off near the woods on U.S 522 above Lewistown.
"He said to me, 'You didn't see me,'" Kearns said.
Earlier during the hearing, Lewistown Police Officer David Vallimont testified he responded to the West Fourth Street address along with another officer and found a woman lying in bed with "massive facial trauma."
Vallimont said the left side of her head and face were severely injured from the assault.
"I said, 'Can you speak? Who did this to you?'" Vallimont said, but only got grunts and grumbles as a reply.
"The entire time I was there her mouth was full of blood and she couldn't respond," he added.
Vallimont testified there was blood on the sheets, mattress, wall and drapes in the bedroom.
Vallimont said paramedics arrived on the scene within minutes of calling them and one of the paramedics noticed a hammer in between the bed and the wall.
Vallimont said after the alleged victim was transported to a hospital, he secured a search warrant for the house, and the hammer, which appeared to have blood on it, was taken as evidence, along with photographs taken at the scene.
Vallimont said he later learned the alleged victim was able to speak briefly when a paramedic asked her, "'Who did this to you?'" and she replied, "'My ex.'"
Vallimont said two juveniles who live next door gave a description of the man they claim left the alleged victim's house after the assault.
Bickel was taken into custody around 7 a.m. and placed in the Mifflin County Correctional Facility.
During closing statements, defense attorney John McCullough asked the court to set bail for Bickel.
Citing safety concerns for the alleged victim, Magisterial District Judge Aaron Gingrich said he would set bail at $200,000.
Mifflin County District Attorney Dave Molek said, "The injuries themselves are extremely serious life threatening."
Molek said she sustained over "20 comminuted fractures" indicating she was struck several times with an object.
Molek said the alleged victim remains in Intensive Care at Geisinger Medical Center in Danville and will give a recorded deposition when she is capable.
Pending further court action, Bickel remains incarcerated at the MCCF in lieu of $200,000 bail. A formal arraignment date has not been set.