Football star admits role as brutal bandit

A 27-year-old Pottstown man - and former football star at Pottstown High - admitted his role in a brutal 2008 home invasion in East Coventry Township.

Brandon A. Nixon pleaded guilty to burglary, conspiracy and related offenses. He will be sentenced at a later date by Chester County Court Judge Anthony A. Sarcione. His co-defendant, John D. Bitting, received a prison term of 18 1/2 to 37 years after a jury found him guilty in March.

The case went unsolved for more than a year before Bitting was arrested after a DNA match. According to Assistant District Attorney John Pavloff, Bitting and Nixon wore masks and gloves when they removed an air conditioner to enter the home about 4 a.m. on Sept. 6, 2008. A barking dog alerted a female resident, one of six people who had been asleep in the home, and she was shoved, choked, and held at gunpoint before being tied up; at one point, one of the men picked up her year-old son and threw him at her.

The woman's brother, who lived in the basement with his girlfriend and infant daughter, was awakened by the commotion, grabbed an unloaded gun, and headed upstairs, where he was struck in the head from behind, Pavloff said. During the ensuing struggle, he was hit repeatedly with an assault weapon and sustained multiple fractures to the jaw, temple and skull. The woman's injuries included a fractured eye socket, jaw, and skull, according to the criminal complaint.

Pavloff said the occupants of the home had no connection to either Bitting or Nixon, who was recruited by the University of Maryland to play football. Nixon told the judge that he only completed three years of college.

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