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Victims miss hearing; Charges are dismissed

| Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2001

Charges against two men accused of breaking into a Connellsville home and robbing its occupants at gunpoint were dropped Tuesday after the victims failed to show up for a preliminary hearing.

Bullskin Township District Justice Robert Breakiron dismissed charges of burglary, robbery, criminal conspiracy, reckless endangerment, theft by unlawful taking, simple assault and criminal trespass against Maurice Sledge, 18, of Columbus, Ohio, and Sherman T. Aldrich, 31, of 441 Clarendon Ave., Monessen.

Aldrich also had been charged with carrying a firearm without a license.

The pair was accused of breaking into a 409 S. Arch St. residence occupied by Aaron Jeffries, Joni Showman and Showman's infant child shortly before midnight Oct. 9. A third man, Norman English of Connellsville, is still being sought by police in connection with the incident,

In an affidavit of probable cause, police alleged that Aldrich held a revolver to Jeffries' head while the trio threatened to kill Jeffries, Showman and the child if Jeffries did not hand over the money the robbers demanded.

Connellsville police Cpl. Ronald Haggerty Jr. told Breakiron yesterday in court that he had contacted the victims on Monday and was assured they would be at yesterday's hearing. After Jeffries and Showman didn't show up, police sent to the victims' residence found no one at home.

Sledge and Aldrich will be released from Fayette County Prison, where they had been held on $30,000 bond since their arrest. Charges may be refiled if authorities determine there was good cause for the victims' absence from yesterday's proceedings.

"If we find out they were threatened, we will refile the charges," Haggerty said.

Charges filed against English remain active pending his apprehension.

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