Connellsville robber who blamed talking cat sentenced to prison
By Liz Zemba
Published: Friday, Aug. 16, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
A Fayette County man who allegedly told police a talking cat convinced him to steal a car, rob a bank and ram a police car was sentenced to up to five years in prison and ordered to undergo a mental health assessment.
Judge John F. Wagner Jr. imposed the 2 1/2- to 5-year sentence on James Anthony Shroyer, 51, of Connellsville as part of a plea bargain in which Shroyer entered guilty pleas to charges that included aggravated assault, robbery and receiving stolen property.
Shroyer on Thursday asked the judge to order the mental health assessment because he is “seeing things and hearing voices.” At the time of his arrest in March, Shroyer told troopers he embarked on the mini crime spree at the urging of a talking cat, according to a criminal complaint.
Police said Shroyer stole a Chevy Cavalier in Connellsville March 28 and drove it to the First National Bank on Indian Head Road in Springfield Township. He covered his face, entered the bank, pointed a concealed item at a teller and demanded cash.
Police said Shroyer dropped a plastic bag filled with cash as he exited through the bank's front door, scattering $582 in 50s, 20s, 10s and other denominations.
Shroyer fled south on Route 711 in the stolen car, turning onto Rassler Run Road when a state trooper began to pursue him. Police said Shroyer backed the car into the front of the pursuing state police vehicle and then fled down Fairview Road. He was taken into custody when he lost control of the car on Fairview Road, causing the pursuing police car to hit the stolen car.
Police said Shroyer had $990 in cash when they arrested him.
During an interview with troopers at the Uniontown barracks, Shroyer told them a “cat told him to take the car and get the money with the plastic gun.” According to a criminal complaint, Shroyer told the officers he took the Cavalier when the same cat “jumped up on the car and told him to steal it.”
Shroyer told the troopers he rammed the patrol car, according to the complaint, because the “cat was telling him to hit the cops.”
In addition to the prison sentence and mental health evaluation, Shroyer was ordered to pay $1,572 in restitution to the bank.
Liz Zemba is a reporter for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-601-2166 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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