The Dauphin County District Attorney’s Office has completed its review of the September 10, 2017, incident in Lower Paxton Township that resulted in the deaths of Patricia C. Hovan, age 79, and Servando Luis Santos, age 23. Toxicology reports have revealed that Santos was under the extreme influence of methamphetamine as well as cocaine. Santos beat Mrs. Hovan to death with a 2” X 4” piece of wood in the 2000 block of Fairway Lane. Santos then broke into the house a short distance away where a guest in the home justifiably shot him when he failed to comply with multiple warnings and continued to advance wielding the piece of wood as a weapon.
Santos was an overnight guest of Mrs. Hovan’s adult son who resided in the basement of the home. Joseph P. Hovan is 53 years old and is the son of Joseph M. and Patricia C. Hovan. The younger Joseph Hovan consumed methamphetamine and cocaine with Santos prior to the incidents that led to the deaths of Paticia Hovan and Santos.
Without provocation, Santos administered the brutal beating to Mrs. Hovan that led to her death. Santos had no connection to any of the persons within the nearby home on Fairway Lane. Without any cause, after beating Mrs. Hovan, Santos broke through the front door at the other home around dawn. Stephen Arentz, the brother of the homeowner, was a guest in the home. Santos was armed with the 2” X 4” board as he broke through the door. Arentz gave repeated warnings to Santos before firing two shots without striking Santos. After those shots, Santos continued to advance and Arentz fired two more shots. One of the shots struck Santos in the abdomen. After being shot, Santos continued to resist and had to be physically restrained until police arrived. Santos continued to resist police officers who arrived at the house. Later, Santos succumbed to his wound. Without question, Stephen Arentz acted with legal justification and proper restraint in using deadly force in this case.
Dauphin County Coroner Graham Hetrick directed that an autopsy be performed on Santos. NMS Labs tested blood drawn from Santos at autopsy. Santos’ blood testing revealed that he had 600 ng/ml of methamphetamine and 44 ng/ml of cocaine in his blood. This is an extremely high level of methamphetamine intoxication. By comparison, we would anticipate a peak blood concentration of 20 ng/ml about 2½ hours after an oral dosage of 12.5 mg of methamphetamine. Blood levels of 200-600 ng/ml have been reported in methamphetamine abusers who exhibited violent and irrational behavior such as manifested in this case. High doses of methamphetamine can cause confusion, hallucinations, circulatory collapse and convulsions.
This case illustrates the dangers of methamphetamine use. Santos had a relatively minor criminal history at the time of his death. He had only two prior convictions, both misdemeanors, one for possession of a small amount of marijuana and one for attempted theft. Use of methamphetamine made Santos an immediate danger to others and ultimately resulted in his own death.
SOURCE: Dauphin County District Attorney