Nursing Home Resident Charged with Homicide

FORKSVILLE, Pa. -- A resident at a skilled nursing home in Sullivan County faces homicide charges for allegedly choking and stomping another resident.

The suspect claims he was only defending himself after a resident made fun of the way he moves around.

When we spoke with the victim's son, he told us he doesn't know how his father could have been in a verbal argument. Since suffering a stroke a few years ago, his dad could not speak or move his right arm.

Terry Lee Heckman, 57, is charged with criminal homicide, simple assault, and recklessly endangering another person.

Court papers show that late last month, Heckman repeatedly "stomped" on another resident's chest and abdomen at Dar-Way Elder Care Rehabilitation in Forksville.

A nurse found Michael Zaladonis, 65, lying on the ground. He had several broken ribs and a collapsed lung. Zaladonis was taken to a hospital in Williamsport where he died a week later.

Heckman told state police that Zaladonis said something to him about the way he moved around. The two got into an argument and that's when Heckman began to choke Zaladonis.

Heckman says he can't remember anything after that.

According to the victim's family, Zaladonis suffered a stroke a few years ago. After that, he had no movement in his right arm and he wasn't able to talk.

Court papers indicate that when an employee tried to help, Heckman grabbed the woman by her hair and swung her around.

Heckman also grabbed another resident by the neck and tried to shove that patient to the ground.

Heckman is locked up in Sullivan County. He's due back in court back in court next month.

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