Bail too high for chase de­fen­dant

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - LOCAL NEWS - By Michael P. Rel­la­han mrel­la­han@21st-cen­tu­ry­ @Ch­escoCourtNews on Twit­ter

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.

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