2013-10-03 / Front Page

Pharmacy Robber Found Guilty

To be sentenced October 29
By Chanin Rotz

Nathen Skidmore Nathen Skidmore NEWS EDITOR

A jury deliberated for only 35 minutes last Thursday morning before handing down a guilty conviction in the February 2 robbery of MacDonald’s Pharmacy in Mc- Connellsburg

Nathen Lee Skidmore, most recently of 516 E. Poplar Street, Mc- Connellsburg, will remain incarcerated in state prison while awaiting sentencing on October 29 on three counts of robbery with intent to cause serious bodily injury, three counts of robbery with threats to commit murder and one count each of theft and possession of a controlled substance.

Defense attorney Philip Harper requested that sentencing not occur immediately following the reading of the verdict but still urged the court to sentence his client as soon as possible. He added that given the possible lengthy sentence that could be handed down, he needed time to collect information “beneficial” to the case and speak with individuals who could testify on Skidmore’s behalf, such as family, friends and psychiatrist Dr. Harvey Shapiro.

However, Skidmore told the court and presiding trial judge Angela R. Krom of the Fulton/Franklin County Court of Common Pleas of his desire to be sentenced immediately. He noted the sooner he was sentenced the sooner he could pursue the matter further in a higher court of law.

As part of the two-day trial, Fulton County District Attorney Travis Kendall presented the court with approximately 17 pieces of evidence. Among the items admitted into evidence were surveillance footage from the pharmacy located on South Third Street; a copy of Skidmore’s written confession as well as photos of pill stock bottles and clothing believed to have been worn during the robbery by Skidmore. Clothing items photographed included a dark hoodie, dark jeans, white sneakers and two white cloths. One cloth was used to hide the robber’s face, while the remaining cloth was recorded by the store’s cameras as hanging from a pants pocket.

Troopers Ken Falkosky and Michael Sprague along with lead investigator Trooper Tim Lear took the stand for the commonwealth, outlining the investigation and how they came to believe Skidmore was a suspect or “person of interest.” Trooper Falkosky pointed out in the hours prior to the pharmacy robbery, Skidmore came to the barracks to follow up on a report that he had been assaulted the previous evening and his Ritalin had been stolen.

At 11:38 a.m. that same morning, the trio of troopers were dispatched to the pharmacy to investigate the robbery and theft of prescription medication. Coincidentally, the note presented to two cashiers by the masked robber stated, “You have five seconds to put Ritalin, Adderall and Xanex in a bag before I kill you and everybody here! This is not a game. Test me!”

Both cashiers took the stand during the trial as did the pharmacist on duty that day and the store’s co-owner. According to testimony and video footage, the robber followed the female cashier behind the counter when she fled to the opposite side to alert her co-workers of the situation. Meanwhile, the pharmacist outlined the store’s computerized inventory system, which allowed the pharmacy to eventually determine how many and what types of pills the robber took from the store’s stock shelves.

In addition, the store’s co-owner elaborated on a hand-written code placed on two narcotics as a store indicator or identifier. That particular code was located on three of the stock bottles found at Skidmore’s mobile home.

Skidmore’s former girlfriend, Chanda Barthalow, currently of New Paris, Pa., admitted she showed the state police troopers where the pill stock bottles were hidden out of fear she could possibly go to jail. She did not recall a conversation with Trooper Lear in which she said she had been awoke by Skidmore, who said he had just returned from robbing the pharmacy. She did admit, however, to having been using drugs at that time.

Trooper Sprague said when he arrived at the East Poplar Street residence shared by Skidmore and Barthalow for a “knock and talk,” he found the defendant to be “hyper” and “very talkative.” While being walked through the trailer by the couple, he spotted what he believed to be the robbery suspect’s clothing in the rear bedroom. Sprague told the court that spotting a single item, such as a pair of white sneakers matching a portion of the description of the robber wouldn’t have been a big deal. However, as all of the items appeared to be present as seen in the video, they knew they had something, Sprague said.

Trooper Lear explained how the state police were able to obtain a written statement from Skidmore, which the defense maintains was given under duress and not voluntarily. While the statement at times contained gibberish and several lines were crossed out, Lear stated he found several lines relevant, such as that the robbery was Skidmore’s fault and that he had gone to the pharmacy. It was also pointed out that the majority of the words written in both the statement and the note given to the cashiers began with a capital letter.

The trooper added he was aware that Skidmore had suffered a head injury from an assault but said that Skidmore did not appear to be confused. He added at one point negotiations were mentioned by the defendant, who offered to work with the vice unit against people in the area using or selling drugs.

While none of the store employees were able to clearly identify Skidmore and there was a lack of DNA or fingerprints in the case, District Attorney Kendall referenced motive. Drug abuse was evident throughout the home, Kendall said, and Skidmore had also hours earlier reported his Ritalin stolen.

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