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Central Pa. man denies having beaten man to death with hammer, says he merely found victim


HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania — Closing arguments are scheduled Thursday in the trial of a central Pennsylvania man charged in the murder of a man beaten to death with a hammer last year.

Fifty-six-year-old Jonathan Cornish of Harrisburg is charged in Dauphin County in the February 2013 death of 50-year-old Jose Vazquez. ( ) reports that Cornish took the stand Wednesday and told jurors that he was a "victim of circumstance" who merely found the victim.

He said he returned home from a morning of buying and using heroin and cocaine and found Vazquez battered, blooding and barely alive.

He acknowledged having struck the victim's brother with the hammer that authorities said was the murder weapon, but said he did so only in self-defense and in an attempt to get out of the home.

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