Man cleared of kidnapping gets probation

HOLLIDAYSBURG – An Altoona man accused but eventually cleared of attempting to kidnap a 13-year-old girl in October was placed on probation Monday for failing to report his address to authorities under Megan’s Law.

Blair County Judge Daniel J. Milliron told Brian S. Lawrence Jr., 23, whose most recent address was listed as 1401 Washington Ave., that although he was placed on probation for seven years for failure to report his address to police, he still faces a parole violation hearing stemming from a prior offense of indecent assault. That offense required him to register under Megan’s Law for 10 years.

Milliron informed Lawrence’s attorney, assistant public defender David Beyer, that state parole and probation officials probably will ask for “major league time” behind bars because Lawrence violated his parole by not keeping authorities abreast of his address.

Blair County Assistant District Attorney Dan Kiss said he will seek “years” behind bars for Lawrence for the violating his parole.

The situation brought tears to the eyes of Lawrence’s mother, Tajuanda Christman, who told the judge that at the time it was unclear who her son’s probation officer was.

The president of the Blair County Chapter of the NAACP, Don Witherspoon, said the situation facing Lawrence “stinks.” Lawrence was on parole for indecent assault, the improper touching of an adult female, not a child, Witherspoon said.

Lawrence contended he was in the process of changing his address when he was arrested.

He came to the attention of police and the public when he surfaced as a suspect in an alleged attempted kidnapping of a 13-year-old on Oct. 16 near the Altoona Area Junior High School.

He was cleared of the offense and the crime was downgraded to an attempted purse snatching, for which no one has been arrested.

Kiss said the attempted kidnapping flap had nothing to do with Lawrence’s arrest by parole and probation officials. He said state authorities were seeking Lawrence for violations prior to that.

Milliron recused himself from further activity in the case because he knows Lawrence’s grandmother, Alice Lawrence, who is active in the NAACP and who was in court Monday.

“I have so much respect for your grandmother,” Milliron said.

Court papers indicate that parole and probation officials contend that Lawrence had not lived at the Washington Avenue address for months prior to his arrest, an indication he was not keeping authorities up to date where he was living.

The next step will be for Lawrence to have a probation violation hearing.

Mirror Staff Writer Phil Ray is at 946-7468.