News Nearby: Pittsburgh Man to Stand Trial for Burglary at Marshall Township Office Building
Timothy Barnett is charged with burglary, criminal trespass and other crimes.
The case against a man arrested in an office building in Marshall Township in mid-December after police surrounded it following an alarm activation was sent Wednesday to the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas.
Timothy Barnett, 50, of Pittsburgh, pleaded not guilty when he appeared before Magisterial District Judge William K. Wagner for a preliminary hearing. His formal arraignment is scheduled for Feb. 22.
Barnett is a suspect in several burglaries in the region, according to a source.
He is charged with burglary, attempted burglary, receiving stolen property and criminal trespass in the Marshall case.
Northern Regional police officer Timothy Spontak testified that he found Barnett inside the office building at 115 VIP Drive about 10 a.m. on Sunday, Dec. 18, when he answered a call for an alarm activation at the building's rear door.
The building is located close to the Wexford interchange for I-79.
Spontak testified that although Barnett initially ran when the police officer saw him through the glass back door, he did surrender when told at gunpoint to come to the back door.
Spontak noted that he saw fresh pry marks on the back door and on several interior doors.
Defense attorney Giuseppe Rosselli asked Spontak if police found a pry bar or any tool capable of making the pry marks. Spontak answered, "No."
In answer to Rosselli's questions, Spontak also testified that Barnett's fingerprints were not found in the building.
Rosselli questioned how much Barnett could have accomplished in the few minutes that transpired between the time of the alarm activation and police arrival.
He asked Spontak how long it takes to pry open a door.
"I don't know. I'm not a burglar," Spontak responded.
Assistant District Attorney Mike Ball asked what police found when they searched Barnett's vehicle.
Northern Regional police officer Scott Rick testified that cameras, including one reported stolen in a McCandless burglary, were found. He said a fake moustache and sunglasses also were in the car.
Businesses on the first and second floors of the office building include Axios Advisory Group, American Pension Benefits and Pennsylvania Independent Oil & Gas Association, known as PIOGA. Testimony showed that Benefits Network's office on the third floor was not disturbed.
Spontak said the business owners told him it could be a while before they can tell if anything had been taken.
Mero Capo, part owner of Axios, testified that file cabinet keys had been moved from the office manager's drawer, but employees could not tell if the keys had been used to access anything.
PIOGA President Louis D'Amico told the court that one desk drawer in his company's office had been rifled through, but employees could not determine if anything had been taken.
Spontak said he arrived about seven minutes after the alarm was activated and saw a silver Lincoln parked in the rear parking lot and footprints in the snow to the building's back door.
"The vehicle matched the description of a vehicle seen in the area of recent commercial building burglaries in the area," the criminal complaint noted.
Other police units were called to set up a perimeter around the building, he testified, and Northern Regional police officer Larry Vierling arrived soon after Spontak did and covered the building's front door, Spontak testified.
He said he saw fresh pry marks on the metal door jam at the back door, but the glass door was locked. While standing there, Spontak said he saw Barnett come to the rear door area.
Spontak said that after he identified himself as a police officer, Barnett looked directly at him and then ran. Spontak said he could see Barnett running to different places inside the building and eventually ordered him at gunpoint to come to the back door.
Barnett came to the door and was taken into custody, Spontak testified.
Spontak testified that Barnett said he did not know what was going on and that he was there to pick up somebody. A search showed Barnett had a wallet with his ID and a large number of business cards in it, $521 in cash and keys that fit the Lincoln in the parking lot, said Spontak.
In closing arguments, Rosselli asked that all charges besides criminal trespass be dismissed.
"Police should have found a tool," said Rosselli. The idea that an individual could pry his way into the building, pry open other doors, move things around without the benefit of a tool and without leaving fingerprints "is mind-numbing to me and just incredible."
Rosselli had made the point during questioning that no gloves or tools were found on Barnett and that an alarm on a nearby commercial building had been activated around the same time as Barnett's arrest.
"There's no evidence except the pry marks," said Rosselli.
Assistant District Attorney Ball countered that only a few things happened inside of the building because police arrived quickly.
"Clearly Mr. Barnett was the one inside the building."