West Newton judge delays hearing in wild chase, theft case
WEST NEWTON – A homeless man who tried to elude police June 4 by swimming across the Monongahela River showed up for a preliminary hearing Monday without an attorney.
Timothy James Hall, 30, received a plea bargain offer from prosecutors, but Magisterial District Judge Charles Christner ended up delaying the hearing.
Hall told Christner he completed an application for representation by a public defender.
“I don't know if I messed up filling out the papers, or what,” Hall told Christner. “I told them I can read and write, but I can't spell nothing.”
West Newton police Chief Charles Indof charged Hall with theft by unlawful taking, receiving stolen property, credit cards, flight to avoid apprehension, escape, criminal inducement and possession of a controlled substance.
In a related case – for an incident that occured during the chase – West Newton Officer Anthony Gillingham charged Hall with robbery, theft by unlawful taking, receiving stolen property and resisting arrest.
In that incident, Hall allegedly noticed a police cruiser approaching him and stole a bicycle from Alan Gough, 24, of West Newton, who had been riding on the Great Allegheny Passage trail.
A five-hour search for Hall began earlier that day at a Sunoco station along Route 136 in South Huntingdon Township, just outside West Newton.
Police attempted to arrest Hall on outstanding warrants, but he was able to escape into a nearby wooded area. A police helicopter and a K9 officer from Monessen were brought in to assist the search.
Trying to elude police, Hall swam across the river and climbed a tree, according to the affidavit of probable cause.
Police used a Taser to subdue Hall about a half-mile south of the trailhead in West Newton.
In district court Monday, Hall told Christner and Westmoreland County Assistant District Attorney Allen Powanda that he had a drug addiction problem and knew he did wrong.
Hall said he wanted to hear what kind of plea deal was going to be offered before deciding if he wanted an attorney.
“With the charges of Chief Indof, just with the escape, you're looking at 21-27 months (in jail),” Powanda told Hall.
“With your prior records, that's minimum time. On the robbery, you're looking at one to 1 1⁄2 years ... so you're looking at a minimum of three to 3 1⁄2 years.”
Powanda said that given Hall's record, he could be facing up to 10 years in state prison.
Christner told Hall he probably be better off requesting a continuance and seeking legal representation – especially because Hall might face additional charges by state police.
“I guess I'll have to wait for an attorney,” Hall said. “I guess I have to see if I have more charges.
“I know I screwed up. I have a little girl ... I just want to get this and my time done. ”
Hall's hearing has been rescheduled for 11:15 a.m. July 22 before Christner.
Jeremy Sellew is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 724-684-2667.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Belle Vernon man faces drug charges
- Woman agrees to testify against boyfriend in Charleroi knife fray
- New leader named at Jefferson Hospital
- Woman marks 70 years on bench at Rostraver church’s organ
- Ringgold to seek state’s help funding new school building
- Charleroi father jailed over filthy home
- Don’t take excessive investment risks
- Timing right for firefighter to get woman, 84, out of burning house
- Victim of Monessen standoff committed suicide
- Architect seeks money for work on Charleroi theater project