Motions rejected in pizza shop robbery case|
Wednesday, July 10, 2013
By Jeff Corcino Staff Writer
A Hyde man accused of robbing Domino's Pizza in Clearfield at knifepoint on April 4 had his motions to have video surveillance and DNA evidence suppressed and have a change in venue rejected by President Judge Fredric Ammerman at yesterday's session of motions court.
William L. Rauch, 34, of Hyde, is charged with robbery, simple assault, terroristic threats, theft by unlawful taking, receiving stolen property, harassment, disorderly conduct and two counts of robbery.
Rauch is accused of entering the restaurant in a gray-hooded sweatshirt with the hood pulled down over his face, pulling a knife on employees and demanding money before fleeing the store with $195 in cash.
Rauch's attorney Curtis Irwin said the video surveillance evidence from the restaurant should be disallowed because it was viewed by police on the cell phone of the restaurant's manager Cathy Lippert.
He said this raises the possibility that the video was tampered with.
Irwin also said his client has informed him that the surveillance video is now available over the Internet but was unable to locate it personally when he searched for it.
However, Beau Grove, Clearfield County assistant district attorney, argued that the video surveillance evidence being used by the commonwealth is the actual disks from Domino's Pizza's Lock Haven facility, not the cell phone video.
Lippert testified yesterday that the video surveillance is fed to the company's Lock Haven facility and the video she showed police on her cell phone was sent to her as a text message from the district manager who recorded it off the computer screen using his cell phone.
Lippert also testified that she did not alter the video on her phone and has not viewed the actual video on the disks saying she immediately turned them over to police when she received them.
She also testified that she did not give the video to anyone else.
Diane Thomas, assistant manager of Domino's Pizza, was present during the robbery and testified yesterday that the video surveillance was consistent with what occurred that evening and did not appear to be tampered with.
Irwin also asked that all the DNA evidence be excluded saying they could have been contaminated by the Clearfield Borough Police Department.
Irwin said police recovered several items from Rauch's person when he was arrested such as his wallet and cell phone and these were placed on the same table as the sweatshirt and knife that were found nearby on the Bud's Electric property when they photographed the items.
Irwin argued that DNA from the wallet and cell phone could have contaminated the knife and the sweatshirt when they were placed on the same table.
However, Grove said the motion is moot because the commonwealth has not yet received any DNA lab results yet.
Irwin also asked that the DNA evidence collected from his client be thrown out because Deputy Gregory Collins did not change gloves after he picked up a swab that had fallen on the floor.
Collins testified that he took the DNA swab of the defendant but the first swab fell on the floor, so he picked it up and threw it away but did not touch the end where the DNA is present. He then got another swab and collected Rauch's DNA again.
Collins said he can't remember if he changed gloves or not before making the second swab.
Ammerman denied the motions to suppress the DNA evidence and the video surveillance and said the defense would have the opportunity to raise its arguments during cross-examination at trial.
Irwin said his client also is requesting a change of venue, saying the media coverage of the case has been biased against him.
Ammerman asked Irwin if he had a packet to present to the court showing this is the case; Irwin said he did not but said he could put one together.
Ammerman denied the motion for change of venue saying media coverage in the case has not been unusual but said he is making his ruling without prejudice and the defense can raise it again at jury selection if an unbiased jury cannot be seated.
Irwin also made a motion to have Rauch's bail reduced from $100,000; this was opposed by Grove saying these are serious charges and with his prior record, if convicted Rauch is looking at a minimum of 66 months in prison.
Ammerman also denied Rauch's request for a reduction in bail.