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Prosecutors drop robbery charges against East Liberty man

| Friday, Nov. 1, 2013, 6:03 p.m.

The mother of a man who spent a month in jail for a crime he did not commit said she was happy prosecutors dropped the charges against her son on Friday but that he should never have been charged.

“I'm just glad this thing is over,” said Yvonne Brown, 43, mother of DeAndre Brown.

Allegheny County prosecutors withdrew robbery charges against Brown, 26, of East Liberty, who works as a security guard at Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. He was accused of robbing Dana's Bakery in Homewood about 2:45 p.m. Sept. 10. Authorities charged him with robbery and possessing a firearm.

Brown was jailed Sept. 16 and released Oct. 16 when questions surfaced about his possible innocence and his bail was lowered.

Mike Manko, spokesman for the Allegheny County District Attorney's Office, said the charges were withdrawn “upon further investigation.”

“I never should have been put in this predicament in the first place,” Brown said.

Pittsburgh police major crimes Lt. Dan Herrmann said Brown declined to speak with police after the robbery victim identified him as the suspect. He said the first time police heard the alibi story was minutes before the Sept. 24 preliminary hearing.

Yvonne Brown said police knew about the alibi right away because her son told them during interviews.

“When he was arrested and interviewed, my son told them he was at work, so the preliminary hearing is not the first time they heard about the alibi,” she said.

“They wanted me to say I was guilty. I told them I was at work,” DeAndre Brown said.

Brown's attorney, Patrick Nightingale, said the arrest was a case of mistaken identification.

“Seven weeks later, whoever committed this crime is running around in Homewood,” Nightingale said. “Our guy was innocent, and at least now justice has prevailed. I applaud the DA's office for looking into it.”

Nightingale said Brown could not have committed the crime because he was at a three-hour, job-related training seminar in Oakland at the time. Nightingale said he has a sign-in sheet from the training seminar, surveillance footage of Brown entering the building at 2:10 p.m. and co-workers who placed him at the seminar.

Nightingale said he was disappointed that police weren't interested in hearing about the alibi or the sign-in sheets when he had them at the preliminary hearing. The district attorney's office reviewed the surveillance video, and a police detective interviewed Brown's co-workers and supervisor.

Police arrested Brown, who has no criminal record, after Lloyd Bundy, 54, who works at the bakery on Homewood Avenue, identified him as the robber.

According to a criminal complaint, a man with a white T-shirt covering part of his face entered the bakery and demanded money. Bundy told police he caught a glimpse of the man's face when the shirt fell.

The next day, Bundy called 911 when he recognized a man at the shop as the one who robbed him and reported his license plate to police.

“They said I was a fugitive,” Brown said. “What fugitive in his right mind would go into the bakery after he robbed it?”

Bobby Kerlik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7886 or bkerlik@tribweb.com.

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