Three to stand trial in diner brawl

November 7, 2013
From left: Tori Thomas, Summer Thomas and Amanda Terry

Three Washington women were ordered to stand trial for their alleged roles in an Oct. 25 brawl at a Canton Township diner, even though an attorney for one suspect asked that charges against her client be dismissed and another lawyer tried to have charges against his client reduced.

Tori Thomas, 26, of 204 Lincoln Terrace, Summer Thomas, 25, of 396 Houston St., and Amanda Terry, 24, of 924 Chartiers St., were ordered held for court Thursday by District Judge David Mark in connection with the incident at Cee Tee’s diner, Jefferson Avenue, that left one woman with burns and at least two others injured.

The woman are charged with aggravated assault, simple assault, disorderly conduct, harassment and conspiracy. A charge of burglary against each woman was withdrawn before the start of the hearing.

Tori Thomas is accused of going to the diner twice to demand child-support money from Andrew Herron, 26, of Washington. After being told to leave, Tori Thomas allegedly returned, armed with an aluminum baseball bat and accompanied by Summer Thomas and Terry.

Merle Harps, who works at the diner and is the brother of Carla Smith, who owns the business, testified that Tori Thomas came in through the front door of the restaurant and started swinging the bat wildly. Justin Shrader of Washington came into the diner holding his right arm near the elbow after reportedly being hit by Tori Thomas. Shrader, who is a cook, was on a break outside when Tori Thomas returned to the eatery.

Harps said he tried to get the bat from Tori Thomas and people in the kitchen had to step back to avoid getting hit by the bat. He said he then saw Summer Thomas and Terry coming at him. Harps said he saw Summer Thomas hit him but believed both women were involved.

“Everything got crazy,” Harps said. “Then she (Tori Thomas) dumped the boiling-hot alfredo sauce on my sister, and they left.”

Smith said she suffered first-degree burns when the sauce was dumped on her. She was taken to UPMC-Mercy hospital in Pittsburgh for treatment. Smith said most of the sauce was on her arms, face and neck.

“I didn’t feel it right away,” she said. “I think I was in shock.”

Trooper Frank Lewis, who filed the charges, said Smith was the first person he saw when he responded.

“She appeared to be covered in wax from head to toe,” he said of the substance that he later learned was the sauce.

Smith also testified that Terry did not assault her brother.

“I asked her to please get her (Tori Thomas) out of there,” Smith said.

Kristin Fiori, the attorney from the public defender’s office representing Terry, argued charges against her client should be dismissed because there was no indication she hit Harps.

“This seems to be a spontaneous act by Tori Thomas,” Fiori said.

Thomas Agrafiotis, the attorney representing Summer Thomas, said the aggravated assault charges against her should be dismissed because she did not carry the bat or throw the sauce.

Leslie Ridge, assistant district attorney, said there doesn’t have to be a written agreement among the three women for all of them to face the charges.

“Tori Thomas said that she’d be back and returned with them,” Ridge said.

The three women are free on bond while awaiting trial. Tori Thomas also was handed a citation Thursday on a charge of disorderly conduct stemming from her first visit to the diner before the brawl.

Kathie O. Warco has covered the police beat and transportation for the Observer-Reporter for more than 25 years. She graduated from Duquesne University with a degree in journalism.

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