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Charleroi robbery suspect facing trial

| Tuesday, April 22, 2014, 12:26 a.m.
Chris Buckley
Stephen Lee Purcell is lead by Constable Ralph Jennings from the offices of Magisterial District Judge Larry Hopkins in Charleroi after waiving his right to a preliminary hearing Tuesday.
Chris Buckley
Stephen Lee Purcell is lead by Constable Ralph Jennings from the offices of Magisterial District Judge Larry Hopkins in Charleroi after waiving his right to a preliminary hearing Tuesday.

Stephen Purcell waived his right to a preliminary hearing Monday on robbery charges – and his attorney made an unusual request.

Washington County Public Defender Russell Korner asked that Purcell's bond not be lowered so the Charleroi man would stay in jail and receive credit for time served.

Purcell has been in the Washington County Correctional Facility since April 5 on charges related to three robberies in a 10-day period beginning last month, but he has spent much of the past decade in jail.

Magisterial District Judge Larry Hopkins continued bond on two of the cases at $5,000 each and raised bond in the third case to $50,000 straight cash.

“It's rough in there,” Purcell told Hopkins of life behind bars. “It's rough out here.”

Purcell was released last month from the State Correctional Institution in Greene County, where he had been sentenced in March 2005 to five to 10 years in jail for the November 2004 robbery of the Cougar Mini Mart in North Charleroi.

In that case, Purcell pleaded guilty to two counts of robbery and one count of aggravated assault after leading police on a 21-minute high-speed chase that resulted in him crashing into several police cars.

Purcell was arrested April 5 at his residence after he allegedly robbed Frank's Auto Supermarket at 628 Fallowfield Ave. for the second time in a week.

He is also accused of robbing the state Wine and Spirits Store at 105 Third St., Charleroi.

Purcell faces four counts of robbery/threat to inflict bodily harm, two counts each of terroristic threats, theft by unlawful taking and receiving stolen property and one count each of aggravated assault, criminal attempt, and driving while operating privileges suspended or revoked.

According to an affidavit of probable cause, Purcell confessed to all three robberies.

On March 29, Purcell allegedly walked into Frank's at 3:25 p.m. and demanded money, according to the affidavit.

With a hand in his pocket, he threatened to shoot a store employee if she did not give him money, police said.

Purcell allegedly fled on foot after receiving an undetermined amount of cash.

Purcell allegedly entered the same store 3:18 p.m. April 5, grabbed the arm of a female employee, said he had a gun and told her, “You're not going anywhere.”

She yelled for another employee to call 911 and Purcell left the store.

According to the affidavit, Purcell claimed he had a gun in his pocket when he robbed the Wine and Spirits store March 26.

Chris Buckley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2642 or cbuckley@tribweb.com.

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