An Altoona drug suspect who allegedly led police on a 20-mile high speed chase is back in Blair County to face charges.
Richard Battles, 26, of 505 23rd St. appeared before Magisterial District Judge Fred Miller on Thursday for arraignment on several drug cases, as well as charges filed by Tyrone police that stem from an alleged high-speed pursuit the night of Nov. 15 along Interstate 99 between Tyrone and State College.
Altoona police wanted Battles on two drug warrants, and the department posted Battles' picture on Facebook Nov. 15, eliciting tips that same day that the suspected dealer of so-called bath salts was in Tyrone.
Police said Battles fled Tyrone police after an officer, with gun drawn, approached Battles as he sat in his 2003 Dodge Stratus on the 1400 block of Logan Avenue. State police joined the pursuit when Battles entered I-99 at Tyrone and headed North, but Battles was able to avoid a spike strip near the North Atherton Street exit in Patton Township, Centre County, and escaped, according to court records.
Battles was arrested by state police in Franklin County Nov. 26 and was transferred to Blair County Prison Thursday.
"I was going to turn myself in," Battles told Miller when asked if he was aware of the initial warrants for his arrest.
"I didn't know what to do," Battles said of his encounter with Tyrone police Nov. 15. "I started panicking."
Battles, a Newark, N.J., native with a criminal history including driving under the influence and numerous juvenile offenses ranging from theft to resisting arrest, told Miller he was trying to get his life on track so he could support his wife and two children. Battles insisted that, despite the charges, he fled police Nov. 15, that he "never ran from a warrant."
"My thing - I'm not running," said Battles, who has lived in Blair County for six years. "I don't have time for that. I'm trying to get my life together."
Altoona police said Battles sold MDPV, known as Blizzard or bath salts, to a police informant on two occasions in April. The sales were in school zones, police said.
Miller pointed out that due to the nature of the charges, including the alleged felony chase, a high cash bail was in order, but Battles continued to try to persuade the judge to release him on unsecured bail because he wasn't a flight risk or a danger to the community.
"No, that would be a disservice to the community," Miller said before.
Battles is due to appear before Miller on Dec. 10 for a preliminary hearing on all three cases.