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New Alexandrea man jailed on $100K after scuffle with police

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Friday, May 3, 2013, 8:32 p.m.

A 19-year-old man accused of stealing and vandalizing a minivan in Loyalhanna Township and later scuffling with state troopers was jailed Thursday on $100,000 bond.

Jesse V. “Fearless” Lawson of New Alexandria, was arraigned before Washington Township District Judge Jason Buczak on multiple criminal and traffic-related charges filed by state police at Kiski Valley.

Trooper David Williams reported that police were summoned about 9:40 a.m. Thursday to Bash Road by a resident who reported a suspicious person in a van.

Williams said in an affidavit of probable cause that when he approached the van, he noticed all of the windows were broken and Lawson was behind the wheel, “appearing to conceal something in his pants pockets.”

Williams said Lawson had been backing up the van and was driving erratically.

He said Lawson “had a strong odor of marijuana about him” and failed a field sobriety test.

“I asked him whose vehicle it was and he said he got into a fight with his mother around 3 a.m. and she kicked him out. He said he began walking down Route 819, found a minivan with the keys inside and so he took it,” Williams wrote.

Latrobe Police reported Friday that the van was owned by Jody Avel and was stolen from an alley behind her residence on James Street.

Lawson told police he had driven the van on some back-road trails in the area, “smashing the van against trees,” the affidavit said.

“He explained to me that he couldn't see out of the windshield (after the joyride) so he jumped on the hood of the minivan and stomped out the windshield,” Williams wrote.

Williams said he discovered a marijuana cigarette in Lawson's pants pocket.

After Lawson was taken to Excela Health Westmoreland hospital in Greensburg for a blood test, he was taken to the Kiski station for processing, where he scuffled with Williams and Trooper Shawn Askins, according to the affidavit.

Askins suffered a cut on his right hand, it said.

Lawson is charged with aggravated assault, receiving stolen property, theft by unlawful taking, driving under the influence of a controlled substance, criminal mischief, driving without a license, unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, vehicle theft, careless driving and failure to use a seat belt.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled May 13 before Buczak.

Paul Peirce is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-850-2860 or

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