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Connellsville couple jailed in attack, robbery

| Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2012

A Connellsville couple are behind bars, accused of robbing a gas station where a 65-year-old man was assaulted, city police said.

Francis Straughters Jr., 28, and Edith Porterfield, 34, both of 304 E. Green St., were arraigned at District Judge Ronald Haggerty Jr.'s office on Saturday on charges related to the robbery at Redy's Sunoco.

At 6:13 a.m. Saturday, Connellsville police were called to the gas station on Memorial Boulevard about a robbery in progress.

When police arrived, they spoke to Zan Long, 65, who helps out at the gas station and was assaulted in the robbery.

Before he was taken to Highlands Hospital for treatment, Long told police that a man and woman entered the gas station and that the man said it was a robbery and demanded money.

Long said the man beat him about the head and face with a crescent wrench, causing profuse bleeding. Long tried to defend himself with a broom handle but was overpowered by the robber, who threatened to kill Long, he told police. The couple stole cash, a roll of quarters and numerous packs of Newport cigarettes, police said.

Long told police they were driving an older-model Honda.

A store employee told police the woman visited the store an hour before the robbery.

Officer Autumn Fike viewed surveillance footage and identified the woman as Porterfield and said the man resembled Straughters, who drives a Honda registered to his mother.

Straughters' mother confirmed he was driving her vehicle and hadn't been seen since the day before. Porterfield's father viewed the video and confirmed that it was his daughter, then cried and said he was sorry, according to police.

Under a search warrant, police said, officers went to the couple's residence, where they found bloody clothing and unopened packs of Newport cigarettes.

During the search, police saw Straughters come up the back sidewalk, notice police officers through the windows and run. He and Porterfield got into the Honda a block away.

Police gave chase and stopped the car on Water Street, taking Straughters and Porterfield into custody.

Both were charged with conspiracy, robbery, aggravated assault, simple assault, recklessly endangering another person, terroristic threats with intent to terrorize another, theft by unlawful taking, receiving stolen property and disorderly conduct.

A preliminary hearing has been scheduled for Thursday at Haggerty's office. The two are being held in the Fayette County Prison on $50,000 bond apiece.

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