The case against a Port Matilda man accused of robbery might not have been proven beyond a reasonable doubt, but that’s not what a judge needed to send the case to trial.
The Centre Daily Times previously reported that Paul Sweeney Jr., 29, entered the Krishan Indian Grocery Jan. 19 and said, “Give me all of the money,” at least twice before taking about $100 from the register. After grabbing the money, Sweeney could be seen on camera running westbound on College Avenue.
Store owner Kamlesh Bhatia, 73, was questioned at Sweeney’s preliminary hearing on Wednesday. The defense repeatedly asked Bhatia for a description of the scarf that the suspect was wearing at the time of the crime.
Bhatia told police the scarf was white, according to the affidavit of probable cause. During the hearing she said the scarf was blue or black with white spots.
Bhatia also participated in a double-blind photo lineup with State College police as part of their investigation, where she positively identified Sweeney’s photo as the man who she observed come into the store twice earlier in the day.
Public defender Patrick Klena argued that Bhatia identified Sweeney as the man who was in the store, but not the man who committed the crime.
Deputy District Attorney Sean McGraw said Bhatia had reason to fear bodily injury after Sweeney said “Give me the money,” and also cited Sweeney’s false alibi defense.
Sweeney claimed he was at Mount Nittany Medical Center at the time of the robbery, but a search warrant for his medical records obtained by police found that to be incorrect.
“The case is circumstantial. It’s not exactly airtight, but there are enough coincidences that it is more likely than not that the defendant commit this crime,” District Judge Steven Lachman said as he delivered his ruling.
Sweeney was bound over for trial for second-degree felony charge for robbery, two misdemeanors for theft by unlawful taking and receiving stolen property and two summary charges for driving without a license and driving while operating operating privilege is suspended or revoked.
A formal arraignment is scheduled for March 14.