Man To Be Tried In Slaying Of Grandfather

Posted: May 09, 1992

Janet Rice's father died on April 13 after a shotgun attack. Yesterday, at a preliminary hearing, Rice wept when a Bucks County district justice ordered her 29-year-old son to stand trial for the slaying.

Moments later in the courtroom, Rice embraced and kissed her son, Thomas W. Rice, while he awaited his return to Bucks County Prison. Looking on, Maggie Snow, assistant district attorney, said, "Her son killed her father."

District Justice Leonard Brown of Bensalem Township denied bail for Rice in the shooting of Alfred B. Clee, 77. An arraignment is scheduled for June 12 on single counts of murder, simple assault, theft and receiving stolen property. One count of aggravated assault was dismissed.

All of the charges resulted from Rice's actions between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. the day his grandfather was killed, Snow said.

Wearing a teal prison uniform, handcuffs and chains around his ankles, Rice listened intently and showed no expression during 40 minutes of testimony.

One prosecution witness, Joseph Morton, Rice's next-door neighbor at the Top of the Ridge trailer park in Bensalem, testified that he watched Clee approach his grandson's home in the early afternoon of April 13.

"He (Clee) was outside yelling for Tom to open the door" for 10 minutes, Morton said. He added that he had not seen Rice but heard Clee shout, "Tommy, open the door. I know you're in there."

Morton, who was outside cleaning his van, said that a few minutes later Clee "came out of the trailer yelling for help . . . and I went over to him." Morton said Clee fell into his arms, and his wife called police.

Morton testified that Clee, bleeding but conscious, said he had been shot and added, "Tom booby-trapped the house." Police found no evidence of a booby trap, however, and Rice was charged with murder.

One hour later, a Bensalem police hostage negotiator persuaded Rice to leave the trailer and surrender, said Sgt. Walter Wisniewski of the township police. William Bordige, an officer with the Philadelphia Police Department's Bomb Disposal Unit, testified that he was the first to enter Rice's trailer and could not find any booby-trapping devices.

Clee died of a shotgun wound to the buttocks.

The theft and assault charges against Rice stemmed from an incident at the Bellevue Floral Shop in Hulmeville Borough. A shop employee, Linda Ann Antrobus, testified that Rice entered the store about 9:10 a.m. and, after 10 minutes, he pulled a knife on her and chased her from the shop. Rice then fled in a van stolen from his employer, according to arrest warrants.

Patrick Egan, Rice's attorney, said after the hearing that his defense was impeded when Brown did not allow testimony concerning his client's fear that his former neighbor Michael Medycki would attack his family.

Medycki, 35, is now in Bucks County Prison, serving a one- to four-year sentence for threatening Rice and his 5-year-old son, Thomas Jr., with an handgun on Feb. 13, 1991. Now, Rice must await his trial in the same lockup where his former attacker is doing time.

Rice, after the proceedings, said he had loved his grandfather "with all my heart." A food services employee at a private rehabilitative school until his arrest, Rice said he had wanted to attend Clee's funeral last month but had been jailed.

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