Woman testifies in Hempfield robbery case

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Rich Cholodofsky, Tribune-Review, Greensburg, Pa.
·2 min read
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Feb. 23—Sophia King told a Westmoreland County jury on Tuesday she had no problem identifying the Black man she claims robbed her at gunpoint in a Hempfield shopping center parking lot more than four years ago.

"I see his eyes," King said as she pointed out a face mask-wearing Norman Jack in a Greensburg courtroom during the second-day of his armed robbery trial.

Jack, 30, of Scottdale denies the allegations and claims he has an alibi.

Defense attorney Tim Dawson in his opening statement on Monday questioned King's identification and suggested it was racially based. Dawson suggested that Jack was not positively identified by his accuser until she pointed him out at a preliminary hearing in 2017, when he was the only Black person in attendance.

King, 56, a white woman from Blairsville, on Tuesday again testified that the only Black man in the courtroom was the same man who robbed her in 2016.

King said she never saw Jack before he pulled alongside her parked car on Nov. 30, 2016, at Greengate East Plaza. She said he asked to use her phone to call his wife, then pointed a gun and demanded she turn over her purse and wallet that sat beside her in a passenger seat.

Prosecutors contend Jack was identified by tracing the phone number he requested King call for him on her cell phone. Police said he also confessed to the crime when questioned days later.

King said as she sat in her car waiting for a shoe repair store to open, Jack pulled up and asked to borrow her phone to call his wife. King testified the man identified himself as Jack or Jackson just before he pulled a gun and pointed it at her head as he demanded she turn over her purse.

"I asked him why, and he said I need to help, I need to feed my kids," King told jurors.

She said Jack crashed into the rear of her car before he sped away. Prosecutors contend King gave police a physical description of her accuser and his car.

Dawson, on cross examination, repeatedly questioned King about her identification and conceded she did not notice whether her alleged robber had a chipped tooth similar to Jack's.

Testimony from another prosecution witness on Tuesday disputed a portion of King's version of events.

Christina Mollica, 66, of Greensburg told jurors she saw both a Black man with dreadlocks and a woman, later identified as King, outside their cars in the parking lot. The man, she said, cut her off in his car as she drove into the parking lot and they later exchanged "disparaging glances" as she walked into a store.

Prosecutors are expected to continue their case Wednesday.

Rich Cholodofsky is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Rich at 724-830-6293, rcholodofsky@triblive.com or via Twitter .