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Drug-Deal Incident Preceded Fatal Stabbing in Lemont, Police Documents Show

on January 17, 2012 4:52 PM

A small-time drug transaction gone awry led to the fatal stabbing of a College Township man late Monday, a State College police investigation suggests.

The victim, identified as Tyler Vaughn Struble, 20, of 831 Henszey St., had suffered a deep laceration to his neck area when police arrived at his Lemont home shortly after 10 p.m. He was pronounced dead later at Mount Nittany Medical Center.

Authorities have charged Tyler Steven Marlatt, 20, of 821 Southgate Drive, State College, with first-, second- and third-degree murder in connection with Struble's death. Marlatt also is charged with robbery and aggravated assault.

He was arraigned before District Judge Leslie Dutchcot and jailed in the Centre County Correctional Facility with no opportunity to post bail. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Jan. 25 in Bellefonte.

Marlatt had been smoking marijuana all day Monday at home, according to statements collected by police. The Southgate Drive residence is also occupied in part by Fatima Ahmad Ghoul, police said.

Late Monday evening, a woman who lives with Struble arranged to meet with Ghoul about a monetary debt, a witness told police. A separate witness said the transaction was to involve a one-gram marijuana deal.

But the meeting, on Southgate Drive, led to an altercation, an affadavit shows. Ghoul became "very upset with an injury to her leg (which) included her pants being ripped," a witness told investigators. Another party said Struble was present for the transaction and refused to pay for the marijuana.

Struble fled to a vehicle; that car briefly dragged Ghoul when she tried to reach inside, according to witness statements to police. She was owed $20 or $25 for the drug and had been using synthetic marijuana herself, the statements show.

Shortly thereafter, the testimony indicates, Ghoul, Marlatt and two others drove to the 831 Henszey St. residence. Struble lived there with four other people, including his girlfriend and a juvenile, police reported.

Marlatt confronted several men at the Henszey Street residence, saying to one that "you think you can do that to my girl" -- or something to that effect, according to witness testimony.

A severe altercation ensued in the yard, the affadavit shows. Marlatt was bloodied and later told Ghoul: "I stabbed him," a witness relayed to police.

Struble had used an aluminum baseball bat in the fight, another witness told authorities. That witness, a visitor to the Lemont home, said that he intervened to take the bat away shortly before Struble was stabbed, the affadavit shows.

Marlatt later told police that Struble had tried to hit Ghoul and then "drug her with the car" on Southgate Drive, per the affadavit. He also said he took a wooden bat and a six- to eight-inch hunting knife with him to the Henszey Street residence, police noted.

Marlatt was unsure whether he hit Struble with the bat or whether the bat struck the ground instead, he said, the affadavit shows. He said he and Struble -- to whom he referred as "Squid" -- traded punches. And at one point, "Squid was on top of me, choking me with one hand and punching me with the other hand," he told authorities.

Marlatt affirmed that he stabbed Struble several times and said Struble was "not phased" immediately upon being stabbed, according to the affadavit.

"The crime scene and obviously the injuries to the deceased were very violent, very vicious," State College police Chief Tom King said. "It is a very sad time and a tragedy."

That the altercation apparently arose "as a result of $25 for marijuana -- it's a tragedy and certainly a very, very violent crime," King said.

He said the investigation is ongoing. Police are being assisted by Centre County District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller and her staff, King said.

Ghoul, 21, has been charged with drug- and robbery-related offenses but is not accused in connection with the killing, police said. She was arraigned before Dutchcot, who set bail for Ghoul at $250,000, King said.

With the exception of one witness, he said, none of the parties involved is a Penn State student.

Earlier coverage

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Police: Lemont Man Dead after Domestic Incident; State College Man Jailed
January 17, 2012 3:03 PM
Police: Lemont Man Dead after Domestic Incident; State College Man Jailed
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