Police cruiser lights

SLATINGTON, Pa. | Authorities allege that a contractor installing solar panels at a Slatington home last month had been drinking for most of the day when he beat the homeowner for about 30 minutes.

Matthew Eschleman, of Maidencreek Township in Berks County, faces aggravated assault charges in connection with the Jan. 24 attack that was caught on a home surveillance camera and left the victim with broken ribs and a head injury.

Slatington police were dispatched to the victim’s Hill Street home on Jan. 24 to investigate a disturbance. Officers arrived to find a bloodied homeowner laying on his sofa, looking as though he’d been in fight, according to court records.

But the victim told police he had no idea what happened and refused help from officers. He filed a report with police the next day for an assault and theft at his home after reviewing a video recorded on his Ring home surveillance system, authorities said.

On the day of the attack, a Berks County-based company was installing solar panels on the victim’s home, according to court records. Both the victim and the three company employees had been drinking most of the day, according to the criminal complaint.

Police said the video showed the workers pulling the victim on the floor from the kitchen to the living room shortly after 10 p.m. Authorities said it was clear from the video that Eschleman and the victim were drunk. Eschleman and another employee threw the homeowner on his couch.

The video allegedly shows Eschleman for more than 30 minutes punching and kicking the victim and screaming that he was going to kill him. Police said the entire attack was caught on video. The other two employees tried several times to stop the attacks, according to records.

The video ends shortly before 11 p.m. with the bleeding victim laying on the floor. After the three employees left, records show that one of the men called Lehigh County 911 from Berks County to report a disturbance at the home. The call was placed more than an hour after the attack, and authorities said the caller didn’t fully explain what happened.

It’s not immediately clear from court records whether the other two men named in the criminal complaint are facing charges.

The victim also reported that about $600 worth of tools were stolen from his basement the same day. The company manager gave police permission to search the crew’s work van, and officers said they found the tools inside.

Police interviewed one of the other employees, who admitted that he knew Eschleman had taken the tools and that he reported to his employer that night that the tools were in the van.

Slatington police charged Eschleman, of Golden Drive, with a felony count of aggravated assault along with misdemeanor counts of simple assault, terroristic threats, theft and receiving stolen property and a summary count of harassment. District Judge Tom Creighton arraigned the 36-year-old Friday, setting bail at $50,000.

On-line records show Eschleman is in Berks County Prison. It was not immediately clear why he is custody in Berks County, but court records show that a bench warrant was issued on Friday in a 2018 theft case in that county.

His next court date is Lehigh County is a preliminary hearing scheduled for March 2.

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