Armed Robbery Suspect Headed to Trial

local-newsCLEARFIELD – A man accused of an armed robbery at Domino’s Pizza the night of April 4 had all charges held for court after a preliminary hearing before Magisterial District Judge Richard Ireland on Wednesday during Centralized Court at the Clearfield County Jail.

William Lee Rauch, 34, of Clearfield is facing charges of robbery; simple assault; terroristic threats; theft by unlawful taking; receiving stolen property; harassment; and disorderly conduct. Ireland left Rauch’s bail set at $100,000 straight.

Assistant Manager Diane Thomas testified that shortly after 10 p.m. April 4, a male who she later identified as Rauch entered Domino’s Pizza. He was wearing a gray-colored hoody with his face covered by a roughly cut, homemade mask. He was also wearing blue jeans with a gold-colored emblem on the right, back pocket. She could only see his face from his top lip to below his chin. She noticed he had a goatee and brown eyes.

Thomas said Rauch stood at the counter for approximately 20-30 seconds before coming behind it, where he brandished the pocketknife.  She testified, “He said, ‘he wasn’t [expletive] around and he wanted the money.’” At that point, she unlocked the cash drawer, which only contained five-dollar and one-dollar denominations, and stepped back. Rauch “scooped out” the money and fled the eatery.

Thomas locked the door behind Rauch and called 911.

Under cross-examination, defense attorney Chris Pentz questioned Thomas about how she could positively identify the robber as Rauch if she could only see a small portion of his mouth/chin area. He asked her again what color the defendant’s eyes were to which she answered brown. He sought permission for her to come identify the defendant’s eye color, at which point she said they were blue but had appeared to be brown when he was wearing the mask.

“My opinion hasn’t changed. He robbed me that night,” said Thomas. “Every other part (of his description) fits . . . he was picked up wearing everything that we’d described.”

Under questioning by Assistant District Attorney Warren B. Mikesell III, Thomas said “everything happened so fast” and estimated the entire robbery lasted 45 seconds after Rauch brandished the pocketknife. Mikesell approached the defense table and called over Thomas and aligned the photograph of the mask with Rauch’s face. She said “there wasn’t any doubt” that he was the one who had robbed Domino’s Pizza.

When asked by Pentz, Thomas said she couldn’t see any of the tattoos on Rauch’s hands when he was taking the cash from the drawer. She said he’d pulled his sleeves over his hands and was scooping the money toward his body. She said he left a trail of cash inside the eatery and up the sidewalk.

Thomas said Domino’s Pizza was approximately $195 short the night of the robbery.

Jennifer Hamilton, a delivery driver for Domino’s Pizza, provided a similar description of Rauch on the night of the robbery. She said he was wearing a gray-colored hoody with his face covered by a mask with “homemade holes.” She also said he was wearing jeans that had a gold-colored emblem on the right, back pocket. Hamilton said when he came around the counter Rauch brandished a pocketknife with a green handle.

Like Thomas, she believed Rauch’s eye color was brown at the time of the incident; however, under cross-examination, she said she wasn’t sure and might have assumed that since he had a brown-colored goatee. Hamilton also said she didn’t notice any tattoos on the Rauch’s hands but at the same time admitted she wasn’t paying attention to those details.

Sgt. James B. Glass of the Lawrence Township Police Department said he and Officer Nathan Eckert assisted with searching for the robber. He had been traveling on South Third Street and then went onto Leavy Avenue after observing a male walking further down the roadway. Glass and Eckert went to identify the male and told him why he was being stopped. Glass detained the male for safety purposes and to search him for weapons, which he found none.

Glass said he removed the male’s wallet and identified him as Rauch. He said the wallet also contained a large amount of U.S. Currency in five-dollar and one-dollar denominations. According to the affidavit of probable cause, Rauch had 25 five-dollar bills and 49 one-dollar bills. Rauch told Glass he’d been to Mary’s Place and to the ATM and was on his way to Dinger’s. Glass then radioed and asked Officer Ralph Nedza of the Clearfield Borough Police Department to meet with him. Rauch was left in the custody of Nedza.

Glass said he and Eckert began searching the area for evidence. Eckert located a gray-colored hoody and mask, as well as a knife stuck in the ground behind Bud’s Electric on Power Avenue.

Nedza said during his shift April 4, he was dispatched for an armed robbery that had just occurred at Domino’s Pizza. He said the robber was described as standing 5 feet, 8 inches tall and wearing a gray-colored hoody, jeans and a mask. The robber had brandished a knife and took cash from the eatery. When responding to the scene, a Domino’s driver stopped him and advised he’d been trying to follow the robber. The driver had observed him running toward Mary’s Place.

Nedza said he searched the area of South Third and East Walnut streets until Glass asked him to respond to Leavy Avenue, where he had Rauch detained. Nedza said at this time, Officer Joseph Witherite radioed that the robber should have gold embroidery on his jeans, which Rauch did.

Nedza took Rauch to the Clearfield Borough police station. At the police station, Nedza took a call from Glass, who also indicated the robber should have gold embroidery on his right, back pocket. Rauch was asked to stand up, and Nedza observed gold embroidery on the said pocket.

On April 5, Nedza said they interviewed Rauch about the robbery at the CCJ. Rauch denied committing the robbery, saying he’d still end up doing the time even though he didn’t do it. When asked how he had a large amount of cash after being recently released from jail, Rauch told police he had friends who he could call on.

In his closing, Pentz argued that Thomas only saw the face of the robber between his lip and chin areas. He said her story “flipped around” and she did her best to “backpedal” when asked about Rauch’s eye color. Pentz said, “Her ID couldn’t fit.”

Mikesell said that Rauch was found with $174 on him, and it was in five-dollar and one-dollar denominations. He said ATMs provide withdrawals in $20 denominations, and Domino’s Pizza had five-dollar and one-dollar denominations taken from its cash drawer. Mikesell said when he approached Thomas and aligned the mask over Rauch’s face she adamantly said he was the robber.

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