Raymond Searles Jr. to stand trial in deadly stabbing in downtown Reading

Man to stand trial in deadly stabbing in downtown Reading

READING, Pa. - A Reading man will stand trial, accused of a deadly downtown stabbing on March 7.

First and third degree murder and related charges were held against Raymond Searles Jr. following testimony in a preliminary hearing Tuesday.

The testimony revealed Searles, 42, stabbed Joseph Ashford 12 times in the chest with a kitchen knife. The knife was found a few feet away, bent in a U-shape because of the force of the attack, according to testimony from Det. Joe Snell, Reading Police Dept.

"Raymond why did you snap?" 69 News asked. He replied, "No statements."

"Where did you get the knife from?" His response, "No statements."

It was a different side of Searles on Tuesday as he was escorted out of his preliminary hearing. His answers were concise, a stark contrast from last month when he confessed to 69 News cameras that he stabbed Ashford, 48, to death after arguing inside Maria's Restaurant and Bar in the 400 block of Penn Street.

"Are you innocent?" 69 News asked. "Absolutely," Searles answered.

"You admitted to us earlier that you did this?" He replied, "I'm still innocent."

Eyewitnesses outside Maria's on Penn Street testified Searles was yelling at people outside. One witness told the court Ashford walked out the bar and told the suspect, "You better shut up. You have a big mouth. Someone is going to shut it for you." The man also testified Ashford pulled out a knife saying, "I'll kill you." 

Moments later, police said Searles stabbed Ashford to death. Ofc. Robbi Folk testified Searles, when taken into custody, admitted to stabbing the victim 40 times.

"Why are you so quiet today? You told us a lot last time?" 69 News asked. "Just in case I didn't live to talk about it, I told the guy it was actually..." Searles replied, but he never finished his thought.

Searles was taken back to the Berks County Jail without bail.

"Additional facts need to be developed. The charges brought forth are not appropriate," said Nicholas Stroumbakis, Searles' defense attorney.

A formal arraignment is set for June 3.

This Week's Circulars


Berks Area News

Latest From The Newsroom