Three robbery suspects waive right to hearing
TERRY AHNER/TIMES NEWS One of the robbery suspects shields his face as he's escorted by Palmerton Police Wednesday afternoon from the office of District Judge William Kissner of Palmerton.
Three suspects arrested in connection with a pair of armed robberies at a business in Palmerton waived their right to a preliminary hearing.
James Dee Archer, 33, Freddie M. Knight, 38, and Arlene Ann Jones, 44, all of 302 Delaware Avenue, were each scheduled Wednesday before District Judge William Kissner of Palmerton.
Instead, each of the three opted to waive their hearings, and are scheduled to go before the Carbon County Court of Common Pleas for a pretrial status conference at 9 a.m. July 2.
Archer was charged with robbery, theft by unlawful taking and receiving stolen property.
Knight was charged with robbery, theft by unlawful taking, and receiving stolen property.
Jones was charged with criminal conspiracy, robbery, criminal conspiracy theft by unlawful taking, and criminal conspiracy receiving stolen property.
Archer was returned to county prison in lieu of $100,000 straight cash bail. Knight was returned to county Prison, in lieu of $75,000 straight cash bail. Jones remains free on $25,000 unsecured bail.
The trio was arrested in connection with a pair of armed robberies that occurred at the Convenient Food Mart, 643 Delaware Avenue, within the span of four days from April 26-29.
According to the affidavit of probable cause filed by patrolman Michael Fedor of the Palmerton Police Department with regard to the first robbery:
Fedor responded to a dispatch of an armed robbery at the food mart on April 26 at 2:21 a.m. Through the course of the investigation, it was determined that a white male entered the store at about 2:16 a.m. brandishing a knife with a black blade, at which time he instructed the employee to give him the money, according to the affidavit.
The male was wearing white and black sneakers, a dark blue or black Adidas sweat shirt with a white or gray hoodie underneath it. The hoodie was up and pulled tight around his face, which was covered with a dark blue or black, gray and white bandanna, the affidavit says.
The employee removed U.S. paper currency from two drawers and placed them in a white plastic bag. The male took the money and fled through the front door. The male was seen on surveillance footage fleeing around the eastern side of the building.
On April 26, at 7:36 a.m., Fedor met with an off-duty officer who has assisted with the initial incident. This officer advised that he had recovered a black, gray and white bandanna from the roadway in front of 552 Columbia Avenue.
On April 29, at 12:03 a.m., Fedor responded to investigate another armed robbery at the food mart. As a result of that investigation, Archer was arrested, mirandized and interviewed regarding the robberies on April 26 and April 29.
Archer provided a verbal and written statement, where he admits to going to the food mart on April 26 with Knight and Jones. He states that he provided Knight with a bandanna and knife with a black blade before going to the food mart.
Jones drove her Chevrolet Blazer, teal blue in color, with Knight seated in the front passenger seat and Archer seated in the rear seat. They were dropped off in the alley to the rear of the food mart.
Archer and Knight were standing along the eastern side of the building, when Knight walked along the front of the store and Archer ran back into the alley. Knight returned a few minutes later with two white plastic shopping bags containing money, at which point he counted out about $700.
When they left, Archer stated that Jones went to the end of the alley where they could not go straight, and made a left. They then drove back streets, where at some point, Knight discarded the bandanna and his Adidas sweat shirt out the window of the vehicle.
On April 29, at 9:14 a.m., Fedor met with Jones to the rear of 302 Delaware Avenue. She was operating a Chevrolet Blazer, blue in color, bearing Pennsylvania registration HJE2486, and voluntarily came to the police department.
She was mirandized, and consented to an interview, at which time she provided a verbal and subsequent written statement relative to this incident.
She stated that in the early morning hours of April 26, Archer knocked on her door and asked her for a ride to the Beer Zone for beer. The Beer Zone is located in the same building complex as the Convenient Food Mart.
Jones drove her Chevrolet Blazer to the alley behind 48 Hours Video, which is located two buildings west of the food mart. Jones stated that Knight was the right front seat passenger, and Archer was in the rear seat.
She then drove east of the food mart, and parked in the alley to the rear of the food mart. After about five minutes, she received a call from Archer that he wanted her to pick them up. They got back into her vehicle with Knight as the right front seat passenger and Archer in the rear seat.
She drove to the end of the alley by the ball field, where she had to make a left or a right. She made a left and drove up the hill until she again had to make a left or right, and made a left onto Columbia Avenue.
While driving, Knight opened the window and threw something out of it. She asked Knight what he threw, and he stated, "a bandanna, evidence." She stated that it looked gray or white.
When they returned to 302 Delaware Avenue and exited the vehicle, she observed Knight to be in possession of a bag with money in it which he had under his shirt.
As they walked up the rear steps to the building, Knight was carrying the bag of money and no longer trying to hide it.
According to the affidavit of probable cause filed by patrolman Robert Cohowicz of the Palmerton Police Department with regard to the second robbery:
Cohowicz responded to a report of an armed robbery at the food mart on April 29 at 12:03 a.m. Once on scene, Cohowicz spoke with eight witnesses, each of whom described the actor as wearing black pants, a black long sleeve shirt, black hood with something black wrapped around the persons face, and dark shoes, according to the affidavit.
Four of the witnesses stated that the actor was about 6-feet-tall and possibly tan-skinned with a skinny build. All the witnesses stated that they could only see his eyes, and that he was wearing black unknown type of gloves, the affidavit says.
All the witnesses observed the actor flee south across Delaware Avenue, with four of them stating they saw the suspects driving east on the 600 block of Delaware Avenue in separate vehicles, and stated that the actor was running at top speed across Delaware and observed the person duck to the west side of the Haja Lanes bowling alley and a house just west of the bowling alley and before a long line of bushes running perpendicular to Delaware Avenue.
Upon arriving at the food mart, Cohowicz had the Carbon County Communications center dispatch officers from Franklin Township Police, Lehighton Police, Mahoning Township Police, Lehigh Township Police and the Pennsylvania State Police respond to the scene to assist. Numerous officers from those departments arrived on scene to assist in locating the suspect.
As soon as Cohowicz learned the description of the actor and his direction of travel, he informed all officers, who saturated the area south of Delaware Avenue. Cpl. Noonan spotted a male in the middle of Alley E traveling east. The male was described as having no shirt and wearing pants.
As soon as the male spotted police, he immediately fled on foot south through residential backyards toward Lehigh Avenue, where he was discovered hiding underneath a truck in a parking lot along the south side of the 400 block of Alley A. The male was detained and identified as Archer, who was wearing no shoes and no shirt.
Through investigation, numerous articles of clothing were found. In the back yard on the west side of 612 Delaware Avenue, one property west of Haja Lanes, a black T-shirt was found with a knot tied, which matched the description of the wrap around the suspect's face given by a pair of witnesses.
Behind the parking lot of the Country Harvest Food Mart located at 572 Delaware Avenue on the south side of Alley E was a black jacket, which was positively identified by two Convenient Food Mart clerks.
Just west down Alley E behind the Hunan House at 471 Delaware Avenue, next to a dumpster on the north side of Alley E was a black T-shirt. Several feet west on the north side of Alley E hidden behind a white vinyl fence was a pair of black mesh pants, a black latex glove and brown shoes were found.
Cohowicz examined the shoes, and observed they matched the shoes the suspect wore in the surveillance footage. The suspect also appeared to be wearing black latex gloves in surveillance footage. The area behind the white vinyl fence where the last three items were located were found about 50 yards away from where Archer was originally located.
Archer lives in apartment 2 of the Palmerton Hotel. The access to his apartment is located on the far west side of the 300 block of Alley E. It appears he crossed south on Delaware Avenue, traveled along the west side of 612 Delaware, and ran east on Alley E to where he was discovered half naked behind 450 Delaware on Alley E. The clothing trail led right to his location in a matter of minutes after Cohowicz's arrival at the Convenient Food Mart.
On April 27, Archer was witnessed shoplifting from the Rite-Aid Pharmacy located at Sixth Street and Delaware Avenue. In this incident, several witnesses testified that Archer fled south on Sixth Street toward Alley E on a bicycle with yellow and red neon tires.
Cohowicz said he searched heavily for the bicycle. During the search of clothing in this incident, this bicycle was found leaning against the south western corner of the Country Harvest along Alley E, feet from where the black jacket, black pants, latex glove and brown shoes were located.
This bicycle was not there on the April 27 incident. Next to the bicycle was a black latex glove matching the one recovered next to the brown shoes and matching the ones worn in the surveillance footage.