Judge sets one trial for alleged robberies

BELLEFONTE — A Centre County judge has ruled that a brother and sister team accused of robbing convenience stores in Centre and neighboring counties last summer will face one trial for all of the alleged robberies.

George S. Patton, 33, then of 147 Azalea Drive in Patton Township, is charged with nine armed robberies and two failed attempts in late July into early August.His sister, Caroll D. Patton, is accused of being a getaway driver in nine of the robberies in Centre, Blair, Clinton and Huntingdon counties.

Centre County President Judge David E. Grine ruled Thursday in favor of a motion by the District Attorney’s Office to hold one trial for the Pattons, rather than 20 possible trials.

Grine also denied a request by George Patton’s defense attorney to dismiss all of the charges that stemmed from alleged robberies outside of Centre County.

Centre County First Assistant Public Defender Deb Lux said those charges should have been dismissed because they should have been filed in the counties where the offenses allegedly were committed.

But the judge ruled that the county where the alleged conspiracy was begun can have jurisdiction over all of the cases.

“Finally, it is in the interest of judicial economy that all of the charges be tried within Centre County,” Grine wrote.

The defense also lost in its efforts to have a robbery charge dismissed for an alleged attempted robbery of Laubscher’s Grocery in Howard on Aug. 1.

George Patton is accused of going into the store with the intention of robbing it but had to leave empty-handed when a no clerk could be found.

Grine ruled that, because Patton is accused of going inside with the intention of committing robbery, the robbery charge stands.

“The statute clearly states that a robbery may occur even if there is an only attempted theft,” Grine wrote in his opinion and order filed Thursday.

Grine also refused to dismiss criminal conspiracy counts against the sister, ruling the commonwealth had enough evidence to warrant trial.

Pete Bosak can be reached at 235-3928.