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Man waives robbery hearing, apologizes

| Friday, Oct. 4, 2002

A Shaler man whose alleged robbery of a New Kensington store was thwarted by a cane-wielding, 85-year-old woman waived his right to a preliminary hearing Thursday, but not before apologizing for the incident.

Justin R. Petroff, 29, is charged with robbery, simple assault and reckless endangerment.

Petroff made a public confession as he was surrounded by cameras and reporters when Westmoreland County Sheriff's deputies brought him into the courtroom.

"I'm sorry for what I did, and I'm sorry for the people I hurt," Petroff said.

Petroff said he didn't remember much about the incident because he had been under the influence of drugs during the attempted robbery.

Police said Petroff tried to rob the Family Dollar store in Central City Plaza Sept. 16 when a customer, Ruby White, bashed him with her cane, scaring him off.

White appeared at the district court office in New Kensington for the hearing. She was surrounded by media who asked whether she considered herself feisty — the way a relative had characterized her in a news account a week after the incident.

"I'm not feisty," White said as she pushed her way through the crowd with her walker. "I just don't put up with any nonsense."

Police said Petroff held a manual can opener to the arm of a cashier at the store and demanded money. The female cashier slammed her register drawer shut just before White stepped in and surprised the robber with her metal cane.

Before leaving the courtroom, Senior District Justice Frank Delbane presented White with a plastic "junior deputy" badge. Delbane was sitting in for New Kensington District Justice Frank J. Pallone Jr.

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