City man pleads guilty; avoids trial

HOLLIDAYSBURG – A 24-year-old Altoona man who led police on a chase throughout the city before crashing his vehicle last December has entered guilty pleas to multiple charges before Blair County Judge Elizabeth Doyle.

A jury was in the courthouse Monday awaiting the start of the trial when Toryan Lawrence White of the 2700 block of Washington Avenue agreed to enter pleas to fleeing or attempting to elude police, unlawful restraint, endangering the welfare of a children, recklessly endangering other people, criminal mischief and driving under the influence.

White entered “open pleas,” meaning there was no agreement between the prosecution and defense on sentencing. He will be sentenced upon the completion of a presentence report.

Blair County Assistant District Attorney Derek Elensky said he will seek a state prison sentence for White, pointing out that when White tried to flee police on Dec. 20, there was a woman and a 3-year-old child in the car.

A police affidavit of probable cause in the case stated the woman shouted to White as he went through multiple stop signs at high speeds, “Just stop.”

White, according to the charging documents, told the woman, “We’re going to get away. … I got this.”

Eventually the vehicle which White was driving, lent to him that night by a friend, hit a bridge on Union Avenue, then slammed into a stone wall in front of the Altoona Women’s Club.

White ran from the scene, leaving the woman, who was pregnant, with a bloody nose. The child was unhurt.

Elensky said the most serious charge against White would be unlawful restraint involving the child, which has a standard range prison sentence of 27-33 months.

White told police, according to the charging documents, he accelerated his vehicle when a patrol car attempted to stop him for a rear light infraction on Fourth Avenue because he was “tired of dealing with police.”

While White’s attorney, Mark Zearfaus, and Elenskyz were able to resolve one of the cases against White, the agreement Monday did not address three other charges pending against him, including an aggravated assault, possession with intent to deliver and fleeing or eluding police.

White earlier this year was the subject of a landmark case in Blair County in which Assistant District Attorney Pete Weeks asked a judge to forfeit White’s bail of $55,000, posted for him by a Reading Bail Bond company because White’s actions in fleeing from police in the December incident violated his bail conditions on his other offenses.

Doyle forfeited $42,900 of the $55,000 Ace Bail Bonds had posted using a recent state Supreme Court decision as a precedent.

Mirror Staff Writer Phil Ray is at 946-7468.