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Arnold man held for trial in knifepoint robbery outside mall

| Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2013, 12:02 a.m.

An Arnold man was ordered to stand trial for allegedly using a paring knife to rob a Sarver man in a parking lot at the Pittsburgh Mills mall in Frazer last month.

At a preliminary hearing on Monday, Harmar District Judge David Sosovicka ordered Gregory Brown Jackson, 39, held for court on robbery and four other charges.

Jackson was sent to Allegheny County Jail to await trial in lieu of $100,000 bond despite his lawyer's request for a lower bond.

Attorney Lee M. Rothman argued that Jackson lives in McKeesport with his wife in a house they own.

He said the couple could post $15,000 in property bond, but not $100,000.

Sosovicka refused to lower the bond because of the seriousness of the charges.

Victim David Brooks testified that he walked to his family's SUV at about 7 p.m. Dec. 22 to put Christmas presents inside and was confronted by a large man who demanded that he give him cash.

“I told him I didn't have any. He said I did, and when I looked at my pocket to get it, I saw the knife at my side,” Brooks said.

“I gave him two twenties and a five that I had in my pocket.

The robber, who didn't conceal his face, demanded that Brooks surrender his wallet.

When Brooks moved too slowly for the robber, the robber pressed the knife closer.

“It went through my shirt and touched my skin,” Brooks testified.

Assistant District Attorney Robert J. Heister Jr. asked Brooks to describe the knife.

Brooks said it was a paring knife with a 3- to 4-inch blade, silver handle and silver blade.

The robber returned Brooks' wallet and credit cards to him and warned him to walk toward the mall and not look back.

“By the time I hit the sidewalk, I called 911, and I heard him speed away,” Brooks said.

Brooks gave police a description of the man, knife, clothing and the getaway car, an older gray Chevrolet Suburban SUV with a loud exhaust system.

About two hours later, police apprehended Jackson, and Brooks testified that he was the robber.

According to the affidavit, police found a paring knife and cap like the one the robber wore inside Jackson's Suburban.

Under questioning from Rothman, Brooks acknowledged that Jackson was the only black man present when the identification happened.

He was standing next to the SUV and wasn't handcuffed until Brooks identified him, Brooks testified.

Rothman argued that Jackson had an arrest history for illicit drugs, but not for violent crime.

Chuck Biedka is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4711 or cbiedka@tribweb.com.

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