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Bond hiked to $500K in robbery spree

| Sunday, April 29, 2012, 2:37 p.m.

Fred Taylor and a woman drove around the Greensburg area in a 1995 Ford Taurus with one purpose in mind -- to rob, the woman said during a preliminary hearing Thursday.

"We talked about stores we were going to do," Kayla L. Christner of Greensburg recalled.

Taylor, 38, of Chambersburg, Franklin County, was held for trial on numerous charges, including robbery, aggravated assault, theft, receiving stolen property and escape by Greensburg District Judge James Albert.

The charges stem from robberies of two convenience stores, a home burglary in which the residents were home at the time, and Taylor's alleged escape from police from Excela Health Westmoreland Hospital, where he was taken after complaining of chest pains after his arrest in May.

Police said Taylor and Christner, who were romantically involved at the time they were cruising around Westmoreland County earlier this year, needed money for drugs.

Yesterday, Taylor's bond was increased to $500,000 after new charges were filed against him in connection with a convenience store robbery in Jeannette, and county prosecutor Peter Flanigan told Albert "society needed to be protected" from Taylor.

Flanigan explained that Taylor could face a long prison term as a "three-strikes offender."

"He has, possibly, a mandatory life (sentence) on this case," the prosecutor said.

Taylor's history includes two long terms in prison on burglary offenses and an extensive period on probation for a robbery, the prosecutor said.

"There should be no chance of him posting bond," Flanigan told Albert.

Christner, who also is facing charges from crimes linked to Taylor, said she waited for him in the car April 30 after he robbed Johnny's Market in Southwest Greensburg and the 7-Eleven store in the Fort Allen section of Hempfield April 30.

She said they both were using drugs that day. She didn't specify what kind of drugs.

Christner said Taylor returned to the car from the 7-Eleven with about $50. He got an unspecified amount of money and two packs of cigarettes from Johnny's, she said.

Police also have charged Taylor with burglarizing a Mace Street home in Southwest Greensburg.

"He was telling me he went in and robbed homes in Southwest Greensburg," Christner said of a conversation.

Clerk William McLaughlin identified Taylor as the person who robbed him at gunpoint about 1 a.m. inside the 7-Eleven.

"He told me to give him the money ... He said, 'You better get that drawer opened up or I'll shoot you,'" McLaughlin said.

Witness Crystal Baker of Greensburg, who also is facing charges for her ties to Taylor, said Taylor decided to burglarize the Mace Street home while they were out looking for her missing dog.

She said she walked away, but encountered Taylor later.

"He was shuffling through a purse at that point, so it was my assumption he got it from that house," Baker said.

Chris Kent, Southwest Greensburg's police chief, said that purse belonged to the woman living at the Mace Street home.

Taylor is charged with escaping from Excela Health Westmoreland Hospital May 29.

That alleged escape resulted in a chase that ended with Taylor being recaptured after he was subdued with a Taser, according to testimony.

Hospital employee Tatum Tocco was pushing Taylor's wheelchair as he returned to his room from a test. Taylor, who was not handcuffed at the time, jumped out of the wheelchair and pushed it back on Tocco, she said. The force caused her knee to be "banged up," Tocco said.

Taylor then fled through a door, the witness said. Police apprehended him in the back yard of a South Hamilton Avenue home.

Taylor objected to the increase in his bail as he sat in the courtroom. He said the witnesses were lying about him.

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