In Canonsburg, a young man was arrested and charged with robbery. Allegedly, he netted several hundred dollars on Saturday from a convenience store.
Apparently, Zion Filby, age 18, told police that he went to seven hills convenience with a large knife. He said he demanded money from a clerk.
Police were called at about 6:15 PM to the store which is located in the 300 block of Euclid Avenue. Upon their arrival, a clerk reported that someone had told him to "give me your money" and "give me everything in the register." The suspect had been wearing gloves, a red hoodie, and something over his face, and had waived a knife at the clerk and a customer. He made off with $350.
A tip was received by Detective Michael Ledger while police were at the store. The confidential informant said that Filby was the robber. Ledger was referred by the informant to an unnamed juvenile witness. This witness also named Filby as the person who committed the crime.
Filby was detained at his home on Bernstein Avenue by police, and then brought to the station. Officers read him the Miranda warning, and he gave a confession that matched the details given by the store clerk. Filby said that after the robbery he jumped a nearby creek and went to the laundry room of an apartment complex on Craighead Street to change close. Officers went to that building and found money, clothes, and a bag that matched the descriptions of Filby and the clerk.
Papers filed in court about the incident did not say if police had recovered the knife or the money. Following his arraignment before District Judge Gary Havelka, Filby was held in Washington County jail on $20,000 bond. He has been charged with aggravated assault, reckless endangerment, and robbery.
All of the charges this young man is facing are serious. You can’t just go walking into a place and wave a knife around and get away with it. This young man is looking at some serious jail time.
For example, depending on how it’s graded, an aggravated assault charge can come with a prison sentence of twenty years. Mr. Filby would be well into middle age at the end of such a sentence, if he served the entire time. Reckless endangerment comes with up to five years in prison, and armed robbery—which is what Filby did by threatening the clerk and customers with the knife—is a first-degree felony that also comes with a twenty-year prison sentence. If he is found guilty and the judge is merciful, Filby will be able to serve his prison sentences concurrently, which means all at the same time. If he is forced to serve them consecutively, he could potentially be in his mid-sixties when he gets out of prison. I’m not sure that is worth the $350 he came away with.
There are defenses an experienced attorney can use in a case like this. Filby had his face covered, so how did the juvenile know it was him who committed the robbery? Did the juvenile have an ax to grind? Did he name Filby as a way to get revenge? How long was Filby interrogated before he “confessed”? The police are well-known for using any tactic necessary to get a confession, and they’re not particular about who they get it from much of the time. He may have admitted to the crime just to shut the cops up and get them to leave him alone.
There are other defenses, of course, and a criminal defense attorney with the right training will know and use any or all of them in defense of his client.
As a Pittsburgh criminal defense attorney, I see a lot of cases such as this. Everyone has a different reason for their charges, but they really should think through the consequences before they act.