Jury acquits woman of felony counts
Rodgers testified she wasn’t part of assault
HOLLIDAYSBURG — An Altoona woman has been acquitted of the most serious charges she faced in connection with a 2015 robbery and assault that occurred in a car she was driving.
Sinclair Rodgers, 20, will be sentenced Feb. 23 on misdemeanor charges of unlawful restraint and recklessly endangering another person.
The jury that heard the case against her reached not guilty verdicts Monday on felony charges of criminal conspiracy and robbery and misdemeanor counts of simple assault, theft and receiving stolen property.
Defense attorney Douglas Keating said he and his client were happy with the verdicts.
“I don’t think the jury bought the theory that (Rodgers) was part of the planning,” Keating said.
Blair County District Attorney Richard Consiglio asked jurors for convictions based on Rodgers’ actions on the day of the robbery and subsequently, when she headed to Maryland and remained there for several weeks.
“You’ve got to put it all together,” Consiglio told the jurors in his closing argument.
Rodgers, who testified on her own behalf, said she and her boyfriend, O’Shay Toney, provided Allen Grager with a ride on March 23, 2015, from the 17th Street Sheetz store to Juniata, so that Grager could meet someone he referred to as a friend.
But according to Rodgers, Grager directed “the friend” into the back seat of the car, and when she started driving around, Grager began beating up “the friend” and took his cellphone. Testimony revealed that the friend owed $80 to Grager for a marijuana sale.
Rodgers said she was surprised by the beating, causing her to pull over in an alley where she and Toney ordered Grager out of the car and where the victim was pushed out of the car and fled. Grager, who pleaded guilty to robbery and is serving time in Blair County Prison, testified that neither Rodgers nor Toney should be in trouble because of the incident.
“They didn’t have any idea what I was going to do,” Grager testified.
While the victim of the beating said Grager threatened him by saying “You see who’s in the car,” a reference to Toney, the victim said he didn’t know the female driver but later learned of her identity.
Consiglio told the jurors that he had no witnesses who could say that Rodgers, Toney and Grager planned the robbery but asked for convictions based on Rodgers’ participation and her subsequent flight.
After the robbery, Rodgers admitted that she went to Maryland, but she told the jurors that it was a planned trip to visit a friend. At the same time, Toney left Altoona and traveled to New Mexico but subsequently traveled to see her in Maryland, Rodgers aid.
While Altoona police issued warrants for their arrests, Rodgers said she wasn’t aware of that when she left for Maryland. She also said remained in Maryland for several weeks only because she didn’t have a ride back to Altoona. In mid-June 2015, Rodgers turned herself in to face the charges.
“My client got put into this situation because of Allen Grager,” Keating told the jury in his closing. “All they proved was that there was a robbery in the back seat.”
Mirror Staff Writer Kay Stephens is at 946-7456.