Man to stand trial for burglary, robbery|
Friday, June 08, 2012
By Jeff Corcino Staff Writer
A Clearfield man accused of an armed robbery at Rite Aid Pharmacy and burglarizing a gun shop in Lawrence Township waived his right to a preliminary hearing before Magisterial District Judge James Hawkins at Wednesday's session of Centralized Court held at the Clearfield County Jail.
James M. Waugh, 21, of Clearfield is facing charges in two separate incidents. One case is for the alleged burglary of Guns R Us in Clearfield. In this incident he is charged with burglary, criminal trespass, criminal mischief, two counts of theft by unlawful taking, two counts of receiving stolen property, disorderly conduct, firearms not to be carried without a license and two counts of possession of firearm prohibited.
The other case is for the alleged robbery of Rite Aid where he is charged with robbery, theft by unlawful taking, receiving stolen property, recklessly endangering another person, disorderly conduct and possession of a weapon.
According to the affidavit of probable cause, on Oct. 8, 2011, at 8:32 p.m., Lawrence Township police officers Crystal Panebianco and Charles Marshall Jr. responded to the Rite Aid Pharmacy along the Clearfield-Curwensville Highway for a reported armed robbery.
According to the victim Nancy Hipps, she was working in the store pricing items when three white males wearing sheeted material over their faces and heads entered the store through the front doors. She said they approached her and one of the males held up a knife and said, "Give us all your drugs."
Hipps responded by saying she did not have access to the pharmacy and he then demanded she give them all the money in the register.
She said she told them she would have to unlock the drawer first and while she was doing this one male said "You are taking too long."
The male then followed her behind the counter and when she opened the register drawer, the male reached over with his right hand and removed all the large bills, jumped over the counter, and he and the two other males left the store, got in a small silver or gray passenger car and left the parking lot heading east toward Clearfield.
The men made off with $324 in cash, according to the affidavit.
Police observed video surveillance from the store and determined one of the males entered the store 27 minutes before the robbery occurred.
On Oct. 19, Panebianco went to the Clearfield County Jail to attend Centralized Court proceedings on another case when she recognized Waugh who was in attendance for his preliminary hearing on charges related to the burglary of Guns R Us in Clearfield.
She said Waugh was wearing the same clothes as he did the night of the Rite Aid robbery, the same green plaid shirt, same jeans, same work boots and had the same physical characteristics and carried himself in the same way as one of the male suspects in the Rite Aid robbery. Based on this information, she filed charges against him.
In the other case, according to the affidavit of probable cause, on Oct. 10, 2011, Lawrence Township Police officers Julie Wehler and Marshall were dispatched to 125 Flegal Road for a reported burglary.
A neighbor, Justin Strickland, reported someone had tried to break into the Guns R Us gun shop. He said he was in his bedroom watching television when he heard some rustling or footsteps outside. He then heard glass breaking and the alarm at Guns R Us go off. Strickland then went outside and heard someone running across Flegal Road toward Quigley's Bar. Strickland said he yelled at them and went back inside to get his shoes and call 911.
Officers Nathan Curry and Kem Parada of the Clearfield Borough Police Department had also responded to the scene, and Marshall and Curry began searching the area for the suspects while officers Wehler and Parada went to the store to secure it.
Marshall was unable to find the suspects so he went to the gun shop where he noticed the front door was open and the glass was broken out of it. The owner Mike London arrived and Wehler and Marshall searched the interior but were unable to find anybody.
Inside the building, police discovered a glass display case containing firearms was broken with a hammer lying inside and a Ruger .357 revolver with a blued 6-inch barrel had been removed. Also taken from the store was a 9-mm Tarus stainless steel revolver. It was recovered outside next to the broken door. Police also found blood on the floor of the business.
The state police Records and Identification Unit from Punxsutawney was called to collect evidence.
Lawrence Township police then continued to interview Strickland, who said when he was calling 911, he saw a vehicle traveling on Flegal Road headed toward U.S. Route 322.
He said he stopped the vehicle and said he knew the occupants. Waugh was a passenger and his girlfriend was driving. Strickland said he asked them what they were doing and Waugh said he got in a fight at Quigley's and was leaving.
Police then spoke with another neighbor, Greg Knepp, who said he was outside his home when he heard someone running through the gravel. He said he then heard someone trip and fall and hit something and it sounded like it was on the same side of the road as his residence.
Police searched the area and found a black and white glove, similar to a racing glove lying in the grass near a street sign, which could have been the object the suspect had run into.
Police then interviewed employees at Quigley's Bar but none of them reported seeing Waugh that night, and learned from them that Waugh has a lifetime ban from the bar.
They also said there were no fights or problems in the bar that evening.
Inside the gun shop, state police investigators recovered blood samples on the floor, entranceway, door and on some broken glass on the display case, all of which were sent to the Erie Crime Lab for analysis.
The next day, police received a call from Vicky Cutler who also lives on Flegal Road near the gun shop. She told police that she found a bloody white T-shirt and socks in the bushes beside her residence. Police collected the items as evidence.
Police also conducted a follow-up interview with Strickland. Strickland told police he had since been contacted by Waugh and talked for 30 minutes on the phone with him.
Strickland said he told Waugh police knew he was in the area that evening. He said Waugh told him he had gotten into a fight outside of Quigley's Bar that evening.
He said Waugh told him he went to the parking lot of the bar where he was to meet someone to buy drugs but left after he got into a fight.
Waugh later contacted police himself asking to speak with an officer. Waugh told the police that night he had been in a fight with an African American male outside of Quigley's Bar and as a result, both were injured.
He said he did not enter the bar and instead called his girlfriend to pick him up. He said he discarded his bloody clothing from the fight outside of an apartment building near the bar and said the discarded clothes included a T-shirt and a hat.
Waugh is incarcerated in the Clearfield County Jail on $250,000 straight bail for each of the two cases.