New Jersey Man Pleads No Contest to Strangling Friend

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STROUDSBURG -- A man from New Jersey is heading to jail in the Poconos after pleading no contest to charges of manslaughter, all because of an argument that turned deadly.

Charles Derr of New Jersey pleaded no contest Monday to voluntary manslaughter charges.

In July of 2012, investigators say Derr strangled his friend of nearly 20 years.

Derr walked out of a courtroom in Monroe County's courthouse holding up papers over his face and giving obscene gestures to our news cameras before walking into a pole, all this, after pleading no contest to charges of voluntary manslaughter.

Detectives say Derr strangled Matthew Stillwell in this home in Lake Naomi near Mount Pocono in July of 2012, a man he was friends with for nearly 20 years.

"Mr. Derr admitted that he had placed his friend into a mixed martial arts hold called a rear naked choke, and that he choked his friend for an extended period of time," said Pocono Mountain Regional Police Detective Christopher Boheim.

Inside the courtroom, the victim's family said it was a tragic situation and that the two men were friends. But as Derr was on his way to prison, he had no words of remorse.

"Are you sorry for what you did to your friend?"

"Are you sorry for being a pathetic person?" Derr replied.

Derr's defense attorney says he was bitter about losing his job, but that this death was indeed a tragic accident.

"It is rare but that's exactly what occurred here. These are two individuals that had a 20-year relationship. There was no hint of any motive or anger," said defense attorney Jim Swetz.

Derr's plea of no contest does not admit guilt. It also means he does not dispute the charges.

Investigators believe if Derr had called for help immediately that none of this may have happened.

"Had he maybe called the 911 or got some sort of medical assistance up there, it is quite possible that his friend may have survived this," said Det. Boheim.

Derr now faces a sentence of two to more than four years in state prison.


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