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SHARON Suspect had record of store robberies



Published: Tue, May 15, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



Mathews was still on probation for the robbery of a man at a Sharon convenience store in September.

By HAROLD GWIN

VINDICATOR SHARON BUREAU

SHARON, Pa. -- William E. Mathews was out of jail less than eight weeks before committing a pair of robberies, one of which led to his death in a car crash, authorities said.

Mathews, 31, whose last known address was on Malleable Street, was fatally injured when he attempted to flee from police and crashed the car he was driving into a metal utility pole at Cedar Avenue and George Street shortly after 3 a.m. Sunday.

J. Bradley McGonigle, Mercer County coroner, said an autopsy was done Monday to determine the cause of Mathews' death but results weren't available.

Crimes: Police said they found $199 on him, the exact amount taken just minutes earlier in a robbery at the Dunkin' Donut shop at 3560 E. State St., Hermitage.

Police also positively identified Mathews as the man who robbed a clerk at McQuaid's Sunoco at 1050 Division St., Farrell, at 4:20 a.m. Friday.

Police also believe he was the man who tried to carjack a Sharon motorist at Cedar Avenue and French Street in Sharon on Friday.

Mathews was just released March 19 from Mercer County Jail after completing the minimum six-month sentence on a guilty plea in a Sharon case and was still on probation.

Court records showed Mathews pleaded guilty to robbery and resisting arrest in a Sept. 21, 2000, robbery at the Sheetz convenience store at East State Street and Oakland Avenue.

Background: Police said he grabbed a $20 bill from the hand of a man standing at the counter waiting to pay a bill and also took some candy bars.

Police caught him near the scene and he fought with an arresting officer before he was subdued.

Charges of aggravated assault, receiving stolen property and retail theft were dropped in the plea bargain.

On Jan. 3, Judge Thomas Dobson of common pleas court sentenced Mathews to six months to one year in jail on the robbery charge, to be followed by a one-year probation.

Mathews got an additional year of probation on the resisting-arrest count, court records show.

He was given credit for 105 days already served after his arrest and was released from jail March 19.

That wasn't his first run-in with Sharon authorities, however.

Police said he also pleaded guilty in 1991 to the robbery of the Dairy Mart store on the Sharon side of Division Street.

Raymond Greene, Sharon police chief, said his department was checking with other area police agencies to see if anyone else had charges pending against Mathews.

Both Hermitage and Southwest Mercer County Regional Police, who cover Farrell, reported no other cases pending against him.

Greene said Mathews threatened to shoot clerks at Dunkin' Donut but never showed a weapon nor was one found on him or in the car he was driving when he crashed.

Car chase: Hermitage police said the car belonged to an Ellis Avenue woman identified as Mathews' girlfriend. She had reported to police that Mathews took her car without permission several hours before the Dunkin' Donut robbery.

Greene said Sharon police spotted the car in the McQuaid's Sunoco parking lot on Division Street just minutes after the doughnut shop robbery. They followed it when it pulled from the lot and tried to stop it on French Street. Mathews refused to pull over, police said.

Mathews was only going about 35 to 40 mph at that time but accelerated when he drove onto Cedar Avenue, Greene said, adding that Mathews failed to make a turn onto George Street and struck the utility pole.

He was pronounced dead a short time later at Sharon Regional Health System's hospital.

A state police accident reconstruction team has completed its investigation of the accident scene and is expected to issue a report to Sharon authorities in about five days, Greene said.

gwin@vindy.com




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