Shooting by Harrisburg district judge turned over to attorney general's office
Emergency responders work at the scene of a shooting Friday on the 2700 block of Lexington Street, where sources said Magisterial District Judge Sonya McKnight shot and wounded her husband. (PennLive)
(Harrisburg) — The Dauphin County District Attorney on Tuesday referred the investigation into the shooting of a man by a magisterial district judge to the state attorney general’s office.
Meanwhile, new information has surfaced about the couple’s history and terms of a protection from abuse order that was in place at the time of the shooting.
District Attorney Fran Chardo had been receiving police reports and evidence from the May 10 shooting in Harrisburg to determine whether the use of force was justified or whether criminal charges should be filed.
Magisterial District Judge Sonya McKnight shot her estranged husband Enoch McKnight when he visited her house Friday morning to help move furniture. Enoch McKnight was expected to survive his injuries.
Because Sonya McKnight presides over cases presented by Harrisburg police officers and Dauphin County prosecutors, Chardo said he believed he should refer the case to an outside agency for a decision to avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest.
Police interviewed Sonya McKnight on Friday and interviewed Enoch McKnight over the weekend, after he recovered enough from surgery to be able to speak with detectives. They gave differing accounts of what happened inside her home in the 2700 block of Lexington Street, according to investigators.
Sonya had filed for a protection from abuse order in October, but the order had been changed on April 18 to allow for peaceful contact, according to civil records filed at the prothonotary’s office.
That means it was not a violation for Enoch to be at the home, but it could be a violation if he took some overt action inside the house. That’s part of what investigators will be looking at.
Chardo previously said detectives were not investigating the case as a burglary and Enoch McKnight’s relatives said he was invited over to the house to move furniture.
Enoch McKnight’s sister, Olga Foxworth, of North Carolina, said Enoch told her that he had successfully moved one chair to a neighbor’s house, then was carrying another chair when he was shot in the hand and groin and accused of being a “cheater.”
Police did not release details about what prompted the shooting. Chardo confirmed Enoch was shot in the inner thigh.
No additional charges have been filed so far against Enoch McKnight for any reported actions inside his estranged wife’s house. Chardo said that would be part of the investigation by the Attorney General’s office.
Enoch McKnight was expected to be released from a hospital Tuesday with a GPS monitor and restrictions against contacting Sonya McKnight.
The couple were married in 2014, but had been living apart for the last year or so, according to his relatives. She filed for divorce in 2016, but the divorce was not finalized.
In October, Sonya McKnight reported an assault at their home when she drove his car away from the home. She told police she was going to the store and he tried to pull her from the car, and violently pry her hands off the steering wheel. She crashed the car into a fire hydrant, and reported injuries to her hands and arms, according to court records.
But Foxworth said Enoch was preparing to leave town that day to go to North Carolina and Sonya didn’t want him to go. Foxworth said she was on the phone with her brother during the dispute and that Sonya got into Enoch’s car to prevent him from leaving.
Harrisburg police filed charges of simple assault, recklessly endangering another person and criminal mischief against Enoch McKnight. The case was handled by a judge from outside of Dauphin County to avoid any conflicts of interest since Sonya McKnight works in the court system.
After that, Sonya McKnight sought a protection from abuse order that prevented all contact by Enoch McKnight.
She reported him for violating the order in November, saying he had called her 23 times.
On December 3, the PFA was altered to allow “peaceful contact” between the couple.
On March 2, Sonya McKnight drove to Enoch’s new home in Newville, Pa., to “collect life insurance money,” according to court records. She could not find him at home, so she left, according to the records. But she later reported that he made threatening phone calls to her about not coming to his home, the records said.
Enoch McKnight was arrested again for violating the terms of the PFA.
Later in March, Enoch McKnight filed a petition asking for economic relief and an equitable distribution of property from their marriage, stemming from the 2016 pending divorce case.
On April 3, the order was adjusted back to its original state, prohibiting all contact by Enoch.
About two weeks later, the order was again changed to allow peaceful contact.
One of Enoch’s co-workers said Sonya McKnight had visited their workplace last week, three nights before the shooting. The co-worker said he walked by Sonya in her car in the parking lot and then Enoch went out to speak to her. He said she also drove by his house last week.
Foxworthy said her brother told her that Sonya wanted to see about them getting back together, but Enoch said he was not going to pursue reconciliation.
Enoch McKnight pleaded guilty May 6 to the simple assault charges stemming from the incident last October and he was sentenced to time served, which represented the 15 days he spent in jail last year.
He was placed on parole for 23 months.
Enoch McKnight’s previous criminal record includes three larceny convictions in North Carolina in the 1990s and two armed robbery convictions from York County, in 1999 and 2004.
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