Judge denies lower bail in Marion Heights robbery case
MOUNT CARMEL - One of the two Mount Carmel residents charged in the Oct. 9 strong-arm robbery of a Marion Heights woman pleaded guilty Monday afternoon before Northumberland County President Judge Robert B. Sacavage to two felonies and two misdemeanors and will be sentenced within 90 days.
Vanessa Ann Steigerwalt, 23, of West Third Street, pleaded guilty to criminal conspiracy to commit robbery, criminal conspiracy to commit flight to avoid apprehension, which are both felonies, and misdemeanors of criminal conspiracy to commit theft and false reports.
Steigerwalt, who was represented by Northumberland County Public Defender Paige Rosini, told the judge she understood the ramifications of her guilty plea and was satisfied with her defense attorney. The defendant, who had her legs shackled throughout the criminal proceeding, was returned to Northumberland County Prison after Sacavage denied Rosini's request to reduce her client's cash bail of $150,000.
Northumberland County Assistant District Attorney Melissa Norton objected to the bail reduction request, citing the seriousness of the offenses and claiming Steigerwalt poses a danger to the community.
Rosini pointed out that Steigerwalt has already served 49 days in prison, which falls within the standard range of her potential sentencing guidelines that call for a minimum of probation to 9 months and a maximum of seven years incarceration for the offenses.
A co-defendant in the case, Robert Warren Powers, 27, of East Seventh Street, Mount Carmel, is scheduled to a pre-trial conference at 9:15 a.m. Friday before Judge Charles H. Saylor. He also remains incarcerated.
Powers, who was released from state prison in New Jersey five months ago after serving three years for burglary, and Steigerwalt were charged Oct. 16 by Mount Carmel Township Patrolman David Stamets Jr. and Chief of Police Brian Hollenbush with felonies of criminal conspiracy to commit robbery with force, robbery with force and flight to avoid apprehension, and misdemeanors of theft, receiving stolen property and simple assault, and a summary of harassment. Steigerwalt, who gave police conflicting statements about the robbery and initially denied her involvement in the crimes, also was charged with misdemeanors of unsworn falsification to authorities and making false reports to police.
They are accused of robbing Lisa Beury, 53, of 142 E. Melrose St., Marion Heights, on her front porch when Beury arrived home at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 9 after cashing a $500 Lottery ticket at Boyer's Food Market. Beury was allegedly knocked to the ground by Powers during the robbery and had her purse stolen.
Powers then ran east on Melrose Street, north on Brunswick Street and east on Coal Street, where he entered a vehicle operated by Steigerwalt before fleeing the scene, police allege.
Police reported Powers discarded Beury's purse along Route 54 between the co-generation plant at Marion Heights and Turkey Hill Minit Market in Strong. Police said Powers stole only $50 and failed to notice that the remainder of the money from the Lottery ticket was contained in a side pocket of the purse, police said.
Powers also threw away a green hoodie he was wearing at the time of the robbery, according to police, who later located the sweatshirt near a playground in Strong.
Police said Steigerwalt, who has no prior criminal record, was taken into custody at Boyer's Food Market, where she was employed. She moved to Mount Carmel in January from Sellersville in Bucks County.
Powers, who is from Camden, N.J., was apprehended in the 200 block of East Seventh Street, about a block away from his home.