Slashed bicyclist reaches out to South Side attacker
July 18, 2014 12:21 AM
Paula Reed Ward/Post-Gazette
Victim Colin Albright speaks after the sentencing of Anthony Scholl Jr.
By Paula Reed Ward / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Colin Albright had just finished speaking to the judge about the schizophrenic man who chased him and slashed him nearly to death two years ago on the South Side.
Then, the 26-year-old turned to walk back to his seat in the gallery. He paused by the defense table, nodded at the defendant, Anthony Scholl Jr., who was seated in shackles, and placed his hand on the man’s shoulder.
Mr. Albright made an impassioned plea for Scholl to receive “above all else, intentional, committed and permanent provisions” for his mental health care so that he’s “not abandoned and forgotten in the system and left to rot in prison.”
Man sentenced to prison for South Side slashing attack
Colin Albright, who suffered life-threatening injuries when he was slashed near steps on the South Side on Sept. 5, 2012, speaks to the media following the sentencing Thursday of Anthony Scholl Jr., who was found guilty of attempted homicide.
After hearing Mr. Albright speak, Common Pleas Judge Edward J. Borkowski sentenced Scholl to spend seven to 14 years in a state correctional facility, to be followed by 27 years’ probation to ensure continued treatment.
Mr. Albright didn’t minimize the trauma of the attack but saw illness, not pure evil, in the attacker.
“To me, there’s not easy justice,” he said Thursday. “For me, I don’t believe any amount of punishment will right some cosmic scales or make good in the world.
“I do not believe things are so simple: that I am a good person, and he is a bad person.”
Scholl, 23, of West Mifflin, was found guilty in March of attempted homicide, aggravated assault and reckless endangerment from the Sept. 5, 2012, attack on the steps near Josephine Street on the South Side.
Mr. Albright was riding his bicycle across the Hot Metal Bridge that night when he apparently cut off Scholl, who was in a car. Scholl became enraged, followed Mr. Albright and parked his car. He then raced up the steps behind Mr. Albright, who was carrying his bike on his shoulder.
He stabbed and slashed at the man with a black folding knife, nearly killing him.
Police had no clues in the case for several weeks, but Scholl finally was arrested in late October 2012.
The details of Scholl’s mental illness were revealed quickly after his arrest and throughout the progression of the criminal case, but on Thursday, the court learned even more about his background.
He was 5 years old when he watched his father, Anthony Scholl Sr., shoot his mother in the leg.
It was that event that made Patricia Arlett realize that her husband was schizophrenic.
He “believed himself to be Jesus Christ and was to save the world,” said her friend, Jennifer Chasko.
Scholl Sr. went to prison for 12 years, and after his release in March 2013, police said he killed his mother.
He is being held at Torrance State Hospital and will have a preliminary hearing on Sept. 19 if he passes a competency evaluation next month.
During her son’s sentencing Thursday, Ms. Arlett told the court that she took it upon herself to educate Anthony Jr. and his younger brother about schizophrenia.
When she started recognizing symptoms in Anthony Jr. — he attempted to set her home on fire in October 2012 — she called the police and then had him committed at Jefferson Hospital.
“That was the moment I realized what was wrong,” she said. “I turned my son in on the fire.
“I did the responsible thing, and we faced this disease head-on.”
Scholl Jr. was arrested on the attempted homicide charges less than a week after he was released from the hospital.
Given the chance to address the court, Scholl was remorseful.
“I’m truly sorry to Colin and his family,” he said. “I’ve never hurt nobody is my life before. Someday, I hope your family and mine will forgive me for what I’ve done.”
Ms. Arlett and other relatives described Scholl as a loving, respectful, hard-working young person.
“Perfect in every way a parent could want,” she said.
He worked at CoGo’s in high school and got a job at a steel mill after. Before he became ill, he would go to his grandmother’s house to wash her car or cut her grass.
“I know he would never have done this if it wasn’t for the disease,” Ms. Arlett said.
She told Judge Borkowski she sympathizes with Mr. Albright.
“I in no way minimize what has happened to him,” she said. “It doesn’t seem fair to either side.”
Mr. Albright agreed.
“To me, watching many years of his freedom being taken away and a son being taken from his family doesn’t make me feel any better. It makes me feel worse.
“I have no desire to see him in prison to make me feel better. That’s not justice.”
After the sentencing, Mr. Albright spoke with Scholl’s family and friends, embracing Ms. Arlett, as well as several others.
One of the hardest things during the trial was having to walk past the defendant’s family each day and not be able to speak to them, he said.
“I felt like it put a chasm between us that said, ‘I’m angry at you, and you’re angry at me, and we don’t like each other.’ ”
Speaking to them Thursday made him feel better.
“It was a relief to be able to talk to them and know that we felt the same,” Mr. Albright said.
“I felt there was a lot of mutual sympathy between us, and that’s how it should be.”