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May 10, 2014 10:19 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Man Charged In Southampton Village Attack On Friday

May 12, 2014 9:16 AM

Southampton Village Police arrested an East Hampton man on Friday morning after they said he broke into a Breese Lane home and attacked a 21-year-old woman with a knife during a botched robbery attempt.

James Edward McErlean, 56, was arraigned in Southampton Village Justice Court on Saturday morning on a dozen criminal charges. Mr. McErlean had been released from Suffolk County Jail on April 14 after serving time for a previous felony larceny charge. He was sent back to jail on Saturday, without bail, by Justice Michael Solomon to await a grand jury's review of the charges against him.

The female victim, who police say Mr. McErlean didn't know was in the house when he entered, was treated for knife cuts to her hands and injuries to her face at Southampton Hospital and released.

The woman, a college student and Southampton native, was sitting at the kitchen counter of her parents’ house at about 9:40 a.m. on Friday when Mr. McErlean entered the house through an open garage door.

Southampton Village Detective Lieutenant Herman Lamison said that police believe Mr. McErlean had intended to burglarize the house and had thought it would be empty while the owners were at work for the day. Detective Lamison said the the homeowners and Mr. McErlean were acquaintances, having met years ago through a mutual friend, and that Mr. McErlean had traveled to Southampton specifically with the intention of robbing their house.

When he entered the kitchen and came face to face with the young woman, police said, Mr. McErlean donned a mask and attacked her with a knife. After a struggle in which he choked and stuck the woman, Mr. McErlean fled the house.

As he was leaving, the young woman’s father returned home from work to retrieve his cell phone and encountered the man exiting the garage with a knife in his hand. Mr McErlean fought with the father but broke free from him and fled on foot down the street.

Village Police officers, responding to a 911 call about the burglary, arrived at the house, pursued Mr. McErlean and subdued him, Detective Lamison said.

Mr. McErlean has two prior felony convictions, both related to thefts.

He was charged Saturday with burglary in the first degree, attempted robbery in the first degree, assault in the second degree, and two counts of menacing in the first degree, all felonies. He was additionally charged with misdemeanor counts of criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree, obstructing governmental administration, resisting arrest and possession of burglar’s tools.

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And may he spend the rest of his life looking at the world through a two inch slat of glass from his prison cell!
By vegas (6), sag harbor on May 10, 14 11:24 AM
How awful!
By metsfan2 (163), southampton on May 10, 14 11:47 AM
Thank God this girl and her Dad are alright.So scary to see this happening over and over again in our communities.
By WhalerFanForLife (13), Southampton on May 10, 14 1:04 PM
1 member liked this comment
... What's up with the see-thru prison garb?
By William Rodney (561), southampton on May 10, 14 3:50 PM
1 member liked this comment
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By Brent, SagHarbor on May 10, 14 5:47 PM
Rodney and Marlin you need to keep your stupid ass comments to yourselves!
The above story is real, frightening and horrific for the family! Thank God they are all okay.
By vegas (6), sag harbor on May 10, 14 7:49 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By llimretaw (118), watermill on May 10, 14 8:44 PM
sorry for the typos
just worked up
By llimretaw (118), watermill on May 10, 14 8:45 PM
This is in no means a joking matter. It would seem as though a little compassion for the family victimized by both an armed and dangerous repeat offender -in addition to a justice system so broken that it does not deter someone like Mr. McLean from (allegedly) picking up right where he left off would be called for from their fellow locals.
By KevinLuss (356), SH on May 10, 14 8:45 PM
William Rodney, see thru prison garb is the least of his worries, we can only hope!
By workingmomof4 (21), Southampton on May 11, 14 11:10 PM
The updated Print version of the article adds detail about the suspect's history. [blue link at top]
By PBR (4956), Southampton on May 14, 14 11:32 AM
Please do some investigative journalism and get readers the details about how exactly he was released from prison and what kind of restrictions if any he was ordered to comply with. Was he let out early on parole? As a repeat serious offender, was his discharge in compliance with the usual standards? Are the usual standards placing the community in unacceptable danger? Let's learn how this fellow was released as a free man despite his lengthy criminal record.
By allenfein (72), Southampton on May 16, 14 6:36 PM
There isn't a hole deep or dark enough for this dirtbag.

I hope now maybe he can be found a Habitual Criminal & put upstate for the rest of his life. And his dance card filled...
By Draggerman (955), Southampton on May 20, 14 7:00 AM
Lock him up & throw away the key!
By wt1967 (2), Holmes on May 20, 14 3:10 PM