Perretti's charges held for court in homicide, CVS robbery

A woman who lives on the city's East Side testified in court she took her dog outside the evening of Feb. 6 and she heard two men arguing in an alley behind her house. Then she heard gunshots.

Soon after, she saw a man lying face-up in an alley nearby with his crutches on top of him, Trina Solomon told the court. She said she watched the shorter man then walk up the alley and get into a gray Chevrolet Cobalt, drive past the scene once, and later drove by again and she saw his face while she was talking to a neighbor.

She identified that suspect as Jordan Perretti, who sat facing her in the courtroom during his preliminary hearing Wednesday.

Senior District Judge David B. Rishel held all charges against the 38-year-old Perretti for trial in the Lawrence County Court of Common Pleas.

Perretti is accused of shooting and killing 39-year-old Jason Miles on Feb. 6 in an alley behind Marshall Avenue on the city's East Side. He also is accused of robbing the CVS pharmacy on East Washington Street and stealing about 2,000 Xanax pills.

He is in the Lawrence County jail without bond, pending trial. 

His defense attorney, Nathan L. Bible of Beaver County, argued that the prosecutor, Lawrence County District Attorney Joshua Lamancusa, did not present any evidence identifying the person as his client who robbed CVS. Nor was there proof of his identity by the witness in the shooting of Miles, he countered.

Solomon, while on the witness stand, said the shooting occurred around 7:30 p.m. after she heard two male voices yelling. She saw them by the spotlight of her neighbor's garage and said the taller of the two was holding crutches. The shorter one asked, "Why the (expletive) did you snitch on me?" she said. She said the shorter man then asked for the taller man's cell phone. She said her dog was anxious and growled at them, then he pulled her toward her back steps.

"Then I heard three gunshots and saw the flashes of the shots," Solomon said. She ran into her house and called 911, then she went back outside but her sixth sense told her to stop when she saw the man lying in the alley with his crutches on top of his body.

S said she saw the shorter man walk up the alley and get into the Cobalt's driver's side. He drove through the alley in her direction, she testified, and she ran back into the house and locked her doors. She said he stopped his car right by the man's body.

"I was in a panic and shock," she said, adding that the police arrived five minutes later. After the police arrived, she was talking to her neighbor when the gray Cobalt came back again and it stopped in front of them and she saw the driver. She said, "He was watching the police as they were doing their job."

He then drove away and she tried to tell the police he was there, but by then he was already gone, Solomon said.

Desiree Jones, a pharmacy technician, offered testimony about the CVS robbery the morning of Feb. 5.

She said there had been a fire in a back room the night of Feb. 4 and the store was not open yet that morning, around 8:30 a.m., when a man — later identified by police as Perretti — entered the store wearing all black with a gauze patch over his left eye, and a black hat with a hood over it, and he asked what they could do for a cut over his eye. A technician told him he would have to see a doctor for a prescription, she said.

He tried to walk through the pharmacy gate and the pharmacist told him "you can't be back here," Jones told the court. She said he started to pull a black gun out of his pocket. She tapped another technician on the back and he ordered them to get on their hands and knees, she said. Then he asked the pharmacist to tell him where the Xanax was. He ordered the technicians to move to where he and the pharmacist were standing, she said, "and I heard bottles moving."

He then asked where the opioids were and the pharmacist said they were locked up and it would take awhile to unlock them, Jones told the court. "Then he asked where the back door was."

She said the only other people in the store were a third technician and the manager.

Also testifying were New Castle police detectives John George and Branddon Hallowich.

George told the court, upon investigating the robbery, he learned that a total of 2,000 Xanax pills of various sizes and colors had been stolen in the manufacturer's bottles.

An officer found footprints that led from the store through the snow to Monroe Street, where they ended at the pavement. He said the police found one full bottle of pills in the 700 block of Cunningham Avenue.

George said the police learned from statements of a confidential source that Perretti had a conversation with Miles and that Perretti was wearing a gauze eye patch. The informant told police that Perretti had asked him to leave the back door open for him at the Cunningham Avenue address, George said.

He said that Perretti also was known to frequent a woman's house on Wooley Avenue. The police set up surveillance there and saw him leave there with a green backpack and drive off in a gray Cobalt. The police stopped the car and searched it and arrested Perretti. They obtained a search warrant for the car and found a 9-millimeter gun, pill bottles prescribed to Perretti, and various packaging that contained about 800 Xanax pills. They also found about $800 in cash, according to the detective's testimony.

Search warrants also were served at Perretti's house, where they obtained clothing and shoes, and at his grandmother's house, where they found a safe containing $3,000, George said. 

George said he was on call the night after the robbery and was summoned to a homicide on Marshall Avenue. He said he arrived to find a man, later identified as Miles, holding crutches, face-up, with a knife at his right side. He said the knife did not have blood on it but was sent to a forensic lab for analysis.

He said the police recovered four 9-millimeter shell casings and two slugs from the scene that also were sent to the lab.

An autopsy report shows that Miles had multiple gunshot wounds to the head and that the cause of his death was homicide, George said.

Under cross examination, George testified that the shoes, a pair of black Nikes with white soles that were recovered from Perretti's residence, had the presence of blood on them. 

Hallowich testified about the videos secured from three locations that showed the CVS robber's path that morning before the robbery occurred.

Perretti is charged with criminal homicide and prohibited possession of a firearm in connection with Miles' death. A previous felony conviction makes it unlawful for him to carry a gun. He also is facing charges of robbery, possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance,  two counts of prohibited possession of a firearm and one count of distribution of narcotics in a bad faith, in connection with the holdup at CVS.

Suspects facing charges are considered innocent until legally determined (or adjudicated) to be guilty.

dwachter@ncnewsonline.com

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Debbie's been a journalist at the New Castle News since 1978, and covers county government, police and fire, New Castle schools, environment and various other realms. She also writes features, takes photos and video and copy edits.

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