A Bethlehem man was found guilty Wednesday of stabbing his uncle in the back three times in a dispute over the sale of a family-owned home, according to published reports.
John E. Bragg Jr., 51, faces as much as 25 years in prison for the attempted homicide of William Fitzpatrick, a member of the Bethlehem Zoning Hearing Board, according to The Express Times. Sentencing is scheduled Nov. 7.
A Northampton County jury rejected Bragg’s claims that he was acting in self-defense from his 65-year-old uncle, whom he said threatened to beat him with a golf club, according to The Morning Call.
In his testimony, Bragg also claimed that Fitzpatrick had molested him decades earlier, which the assistant district attorney prosecuting the case called “venomous lies” and “slander,” according to the newspaper.
According to court records, the assault took place Sept. 3, 2012 at 256 E. Goepp St., which had been the home of Bragg’s late father and Fitzpatrick’s brother, Jack Bragg Sr.
Fitzpatrick was named the executor of the estate and had been trying to sell the home, which Bragg was living in rent-free. Fitzpatrick tried to have Bragg—whom he called “an unemployed drug addict”—removed from the home two weeks earlier.
On the day of the stabbing, according to the court record:
- Bragg called Fitzpatrick to tell his uncle that a pipe had burst in the home’s basement and that he needed help. Fitzpatrick arrived at the house about noon. Bragg told him that the pipe was still leaking and that he should go to the basement to have a look.
- Fitzpatrick headed down the basement with Bragg trailing behind. Suddenly, according to Fitzpatrick’s account to police, Bragg yelled: “Take that you son of a bitch,” and Fitzpatrick said he felt what he thought was a punch in the back.
- Twice more, Bragg yelled the same words, and Fitzpatrick felt the blow to the back. When he turned, he saw that Bragg was holding a butcher’s knife.
- Fitzpatrick fled. He ran out of the house into the street and yelled for help. Bragg followed as far as the home’s porch, yelling at Fitzpatrick: “You got what you deserve.”
- Fitzpatrick suffered three stab wounds to the back, another to his hip and also had a laceration on his forehead. When police arrived at the home, Bragg’s clothes were covered in blood, but he had not been hurt. Police also found a large butcher’s knife on the living room couch.
Bragg has a previous criminal record for offenses such as simple assault, false imprisonment, theft and forgery, according to the affidavit.