Violence in our Community, Public Safety and Criminal Sentencing


We usually use this blog as a way to spread good news and keep things positive but sometimes we do have to discuss important issues that are negatively affecting our community.  Last week Carlisle saw its first murder in 5 years.  It was in the Northwest Quadrant and while reading the article about the murderer there were a few things that stuck out.

A Carlisle man was charged with criminal homicide Tuesday in the death of his 85-year-old mother in what Cumberland County District Attorney David Freed called a “brutal, violent killing.”  Freed said Tolbert is well-known by the police department, due to past criminal activity.

He was “well-know by the police department, due to past criminal activity.”  The only thing that shows up in a search on Cumberlink is an incident from May 2012.

Carlisle police say Paul A. Tolbert, 52, of Carlisle was charged with criminal trespass, criminal mischief, disorderly conduct, possession of marijuana and public drunkenness after an incident in the 500 block of South Bedford Street at 7 p.m. Sunday.

Police say they were called to the home for a reported break-in.

When they arrived they were told that Tolbert had been at the home drinking and became agitated, and the resident made him leave, according to police. The resident then locked the door with him outside, and Tolbert threw a chair through the window of the door and entered the home and destroyed property, police said.


***UPDATE: Mr. Robinson was paroled January 2014***

In another case, Stephen D. Robinson shot another man on the 100 Block of A Street June 28th 2012.

“Stephen D. Robinson, 24, of Carlisle, was initially charged with two felony counts of aggravated assault and one count of misdemeanor simple assault in the shooting of a convicted drug dealer that occurred at 12:55 p.m. June 28, 2012, in the 100 block of A Street.”

He was originally charged with “two felony counts of aggravated assault and one count of misdemeanor simple assault” for shooting another person.  Somehow along the line he was able to reach a plea deal for a misdemeanor simple assault charge instead.  Again, this person had an extensive violent criminal record.

First Assistant District Attorney Jamie Keating told the court that Robinson has an extensive record ranging from Pennsylvania to Chicago, where he originally resided, including charges of discharging a firearm, assault, reckless endangerment and resisting arrest. He was also a suspect in a December 2011 shooting.

The grading of the charge and sentencing range were changed after his initial plea was withdrawn, and Robinson pleaded no contest to simple assault during a pre-trial conference on Nov. 19. He was immediately sentenced to 11 months and 15 days to 23 months in Cumberland County Prison, to run consecutive to any other sentences he is currently serving. He was set to be tried in the crime on Dec. 2.

Robinson was sentenced on unrelated charges while in jail on the shooting case, as a result of a domestic incident where police say he threw a child’s scooter at a vehicle that held two children, injuring one by broken glass.

Stephen D. Robinson, 23, was charged with two counts of propelling missiles into occupied vehicles, two counts of recklessly endangering another person, two counts of criminal mischief and three counts of simple assault following an incident that occurred on April 15.

He pleaded guilty to two counts of reckless endangerment and one count of criminal mischief on Dec. 6, just before he was set to head to trial on the charges. Other charges in the case were dropped.  Robinson was sentenced to six to 23 months in Cumberland County Prison, costs and $500 restitution for one reckless endangerment count, six to 23 months in prison and costs for the second reckless endangerment count and two to 12 months in prison to run concurrent for the criminal mischief count.

So, despite his extensive criminal history ,(more here too) Stephen D. Robinson will be released in as little as 23 months for all of the sentences combined and a maximum of around 5 1/2 years.

***Update: Mr. Hippensteel was sentenced to 14-28 years***


Finally, another shooting on B Street and West Street occurred in September.

Carlisle police have filed charges against a Mt. Holly Springs man in connection with Saturday’s shooting in the borough.

According to officials, 49-year-old Brian Hippensteel shot 53-year-old Timothy Bouder with a rifle along the 600 block of North West Street at around 5:15 p.m.

Authorities said Hippensteel fired two rounds from his vehicle into Bouder’s vehicle, shattering the windshield and both side door windows.

Bouder suffered wounds to the head and neck.

Hippensteel said, “I am going to kill you,” before firing, according to police.

Again, Hippensteel was known by the police department for previous offenses.

Brian Hippensteel, 30, of the 100 block of Avon Drive in Carlisle is free on $10,000 bail after he allegedly hit and pushed his girlfriend, Su Ann Diffenbaugh, and assaulted her 9-year-old son.

Police say at 9:54 p.m. Sunday Hippensteel yelled at Diffenbaugh and pushed her. When her son tried to stop him, Hippensteel pushed the boy away and chased him, according to court documents.

Hippensteel then caught the boy and dragged him by his hair for the length of the house and put him outside, police allege.

He was taken to the Carlisle Booking Center and was arraigned before District Justice Susan Day on charges of simple assault and domestic violence.

The Carlisle couple has a tumultuous history.

Hippensteel was arrested last November for allegedly hitting Diffenbaugh on the back of the head and pouring bleach on her.

Police cited both Hippensteel and Diffenbaugh in August 2003 for disorderly conduct for yelling profanities.

When we, as a community, are trying to combat increasing violence in our area we need to learn more information and have further discussion with our public safety and Criminal Justice officials to find out why these criminals end up back in Carlisle so quickly where they are re-offending by committing even more violent crimes.  Another issue that is hindering the process is the lack of witnesses that will testify for violent crime cases which is what happened during the first shooting case against Mr. Robinson. 

The Sentinel also just posted an article breaking down costs associated with our criminal justice system and how it affects tax payers.

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