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Cops: Man held infant during assault

Joshua James Watkins held on to a 6-month-old during incident, police say.

NANTICOKE – Police arrested a man they allege held a 6-month-old infant while he assaulted his girlfriend, his girlfriend’s mother and the mother’s husband late Saturday night.

Joshua James Watkins, 22, of Coal Street, Nanticoke, was charged with three counts each of simple assault and harassment, two counts of recklessly endangering another person, and one count each of endangering the welfare of a child, accidents involving damage to property and driving an unregistered vehicle.

He was arraigned by District Judge Paul Roberts in Kingston and jailed at the Luzerne County Correctional Facility for lack of $7,500 bail.

Police found the infant girl unharmed when Watkins was arrested in Kingston early Sunday morning.

According to the criminal complaint:

Brittany Murtha told police she was arguing with her boyfriend, Watkins, about custody of their infant when he shoved her against a wall inside their residence. Murtha locked herself in a bathroom and called her mother.

Murtha claimed Watkins forced open the bathroom door, struck her on the head several times and banged her head off the wall and floor.

Murtha’s mother, Darlene Murtha, arrived at the residence and tried to stop Watkins from assaulting her daughter.

Police allege that Watkins, who was holding the infant, “physically attacked” Darlene Murtha and ran down the steps with the girl. Watkins ran outside and kicked Darlene Murtha’s husband, Robert Huffman, in the face.

Murtha claimed Watkins placed the infant in her vehicle, which didn’t have a child safety seat.

She ran after Watkins and attempted to remove the child from the vehicle, opening the passenger-side door. As Watkins sped away, Murtha fell out of the vehicle, the criminal complaint says.

Police said Watkins struck a fence on Coal Street.

Kingston police captured Watkins with the infant early Sunday morning.

Watkins told police that he fled with the infant because his girlfriend’s family arrived at the residence with bats and pipes.

Police said the vehicle’s registration expired in May.

Murtha suffered injuries to her head, back and legs, and Huffman suffered injuries to his face, police said.

A preliminary hearing is tentatively scheduled on Aug. 4.

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