Wrongly jailed Lincoln-Larimer man praises mother

| Saturday, Nov. 2, 2013, 6:10 p.m.

An ankle monitoring device made DeAndre Brown a prisoner in his Lincoln-Larimer home on Saturday, one day after prosecutors dropped a robbery charge that had been based on a wrong identification and kept him in jail for a month.

“I didn't let it get to me,” Brown said of his incarceration in the Allegheny County Jail from Sept. 16 through Oct. 22 while his mother, Yvonne, and defense attorneys pushed investigators to revisit his case. “I knew God was beside me, so I didn't let it get to me. That's a traumatizing place to be. I tried to manage.”

Police had charged Brown with robbery and firearm possession on Sept. 16, saying he held up Dana's Bakery in Homewood.

Brown, a security guard at Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, said he was attending a three-hour, job-related training seminar in Oakland when the bakery was robbed. He said surveillance video and co-workers backed up his story.

Brown said Saturday that he told police when he was arrested Sept. 16 where he had been.

“They wanted me to admit to it and said I could work out a deal,” Brown said of a pair of detectives who questioned him. “I wasn't going to say I did something I didn't do.”

City police did not return several messages seeking comment.

On Friday, police major crimes Lt. Dan Herrmann said the first time police heard the alibi story was minutes before Brown's Sept. 24 preliminary hearing, in which he was held for trial.

Bakery worker Lloyd Bundy, 54, who police said identified Brown as the robber, declined to comment Saturday.

Brown said he never talked to authorities while in jail and was frustrated over delays to lower his $100,000 bail to $10,000.

Still, Brown said, a lawsuit against the city “might be pointless. (Police) know they did wrong, and they know that they messed up. They should have done their job a little bit better. I hope from this experience that they start doing their jobs better than what they did.”

Matthew Mangino, a criminal defense attorney who is not involved in the case, said the case is more complex.

“You have a witness that identifies Mr. Brown, and certainly police are going to rely on a positive eyewitness identification. That's certainly not unreasonable,” said Mangino, a former Lawrence County district attorney. “But that shouldn't be the end of the investigation.”

Mike Manko, a spokesman for Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala, said prosecutors relied on witness testimony for the arrest and the preliminary hearing.

“Following the preliminary hearing, our office reviewed the additional evidence presented by defense counsel and conducted an interview with an individual who was able to corroborate Mr. Brown's location at the time in question. That interview is what led us to withdraw the charges,” Manko wrote in an email.

Brown credits his mother and attorneys Patrick Nightingale and Dan Muessig for the case resolution.

“I thank God every day for my mom,” Brown said.

Brown said he's been spending time with his children, nieces and nephews. He's awaiting removal of the ankle bracelet, a condition of his bail, and is using fundraising money collected for his bond to feed his family.

Bill Vidonic is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5621 or bvidonic@tribweb.com.

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