Shooter takes last minute plea deal

JASON ARONOWITZ

BY STACI WILSON

A last minute plea deal staved off the attempted homicide trial of a New Milford man in Susquehanna County Court. Testimony was scheduled to begin before a jury Thursday morning.

Jason Aronowitz, 43, admitted Wednesday in front of President Judge Kenneth Seamans to shooting Michael Reid, 28, twice in the stomach in May 2011 outside a New Milford bar.

As a result of the shooting, Reid lost his pancreas, part of his liver, the top of his stomach and an artery in his back had been hit. A bullet fragment remained in his spine, he said on the stand during the June 2011 preliminary hearing in New Milford District Court.

District Attorney Jason Legg said, “It is nothing short of a miracle that Mike survived this shooting.  But for the immediate assistance provided to him by the patrons of the Parkview, then the EMT personnel and finally the surgeons who worked so diligently, Mike would not be alive today. He will bear the terrible injuries and scars that this violent act caused for the rest of his life, and Mike’s pain and suffering serves as a sobering reminder of just how dangerous guns are in the hands of intoxicated persons.”

Aronowitz pleaded guilty to a first degree felony count of aggravated assault – causing serious bodily injury with a deadly weapon.

In the original charges before the jury, he also had faced separate felony counts of criminal attempt to commit criminal homicide firearms not to be carried without a license and flight to avoid apprehension or prosecution, as well as one misdemeanor count of possession of an instrument of crime.

Aronowitz could face a maximum sentence of up to 20 years.

Legg said he thought the plea deal was appropriate – as Reid sustained injuries that could have caused his death. He also said he wouldn’t have offered an agreement to a lesser offense in the case.

The night of the shooting, Aronowitz arrived at the Parkview Hotel following a confrontation at another New Milford bar. He was the told to leave the establishment, Legg said Monday, giving a thumbnail sketch of the case during jury selection.

Reid was in the parking lot of the establishment with friends when Aronowitz retrieved a handgun from his vehicle.

At the preliminary hearing, witness Betty Whitney, said she was standing on a patio outside the bar when she saw Aronowitz approach Reid.

Whitney said she heard Aronowitz say: “I got a…gun. I’m gonna shoot someone.” She then said she saw him shove his hand into Reid’s stomach and heard two gunshots but did not see the weapon before it was fired.

She said saw the other three men then get into a fight with Aronowitz and then saw the gun kicked across the parking lot.

But she told the lower court, she did not witness any altercation between Aronowitz and Reid prior to the shooting.

Whitney was expected to testify at the trial.

The shooting led police on an 18-hour manhunt. Aronowitz was located after state troopers received a tip that he was holed up in a secluded travel trailer in New Milford Twp. He was taken into custody without incident but police found a loaded AR15 rifle in the trailer and two loaded clips next to it.

Aronowitz has been held on bail in the Susquehanna County Correctional Facility since his arrest.

Sentencing in the case has been scheduled for Nov. 19.