Bail too high for chase defendant
A Coatesville man returned to a cell at the Chester County Prison Thursday after a Common Pleas judge rejected his attorney’s pleas to lower bail in his case so he could be free while he awaits trial in a police chase case.
“(Bail of) $50,000 is the same of $50 million to this defendant,” said attorney John Pavloff of Kennett Square, referring to the amount that had been set for his client, Charles Owen Dandridge, following a preliminary hearing in June on charges stemming from the chase, which led a West Brandywine officer almost
30 miles from his beat.
Pavloff asked Judge Patrick Carmody to take into account his client’s ability to pay the amount, and that fact that in the past Dandridge had always appeared for court when required. “He’s never failed to show up.”
Carmody, expressing concern at the alleged facts of Dandridge’s chase, which he said, “went on and on” and covered more than two dozen miles of roads through the county, agreed to allow Dandridge to post 10 percent of the $50,000 set by Magisterial District Judge Michael Cabry on June 30.
“I think that is perfectly reasonable,” the judge said. He noted that Dandridge had previous convictions for fleeing police.
As Dandridge, 32, was led from the courtroom to return to prison, a woman who had been seated in Carmody’s courtroom burst into tears and left.
Pavloff, in asking for a reduction in bail, acknowledged that Dandridge had made a severe mistake by failing to stop for a speeding violation in West Brandywine. He feared repercussions more than a traffic tickets, the attorney said. “He realizes now that it was pointless” not to stop.
According to an arrest affidavit signed by West Brandywine Officer Joseph Waldron, Dandridge was the driver of a Toyota Scion that he clocked going 53 miles per hour in a 35 miles per hour zone on Manor Road outside Coatesville at about 3:20 a.m. on June 16. When Waldron put on his lights to pull the car over, it continued on.
The two drove through the back roads of West Brandywine into Wallace and East Nantmeal on Route 82, then south on Route 401 into Upper Uwchlan, where they were met by three Upper Uwchlan patrol cars, who also joined the chase. Dandridge failed to stop on numerous occasions, and cut off the police cars several times. The speeds involved ranged between 55 mph and 70 mph, according to Waldron.
He eventually was stopped on Rap’s Dam Road outside Phoenixville when three of the patrol cars were able to box him in, Waldron said. When the officer approached the car and asked, “What are you running for?” Dandridge allegedly replied, “I’m just trying to go to work.”
Pavloff said his client was afraid that he would be taken to jail and given a probation violation.
No trial date has been set. To contact staff writer Michael P. Rellahan call 610-696-1544.