HOLLIDAYSBURG – A Blair County judge has dismissed a conspiracy to commit robbery charges filed last year against the Rochester, NY teenager who was leading area police in a high-speed chase and crashed near Tipton.
President Judge Elizabeth Doyle’s recent ruling prompted Blair County District Attorney Pete Weeks to appeal to the state Superior Court seeking a quashing of Doyle’s sentence.
Weeks said the charges Doyle dismissed were the ones that brought Zavion T. Little’s criminal case to an adult court where his case was to be tried.
Before arriving in Blair County, Little was the person who stabbed a Rochester, NY man multiple times and stole his vehicle.
Defense attorney Kristen Anastasi, who has attempted to bring the Little’s Blair County charges to juvenile court, had asked Doyle to dismiss the criminal conspiracy to commit robbery – a second-degree felony – because there was no evidence Little intended to carry out more robberies.
If the Supreme Court agrees and upholds Doyle’s ruling, Little’s additional charges — stolen property, fleeing an officer, escape, reckless endangerment, reckless driving and summary traffic offenses — are likely to be tried in the county’s juvenile court.
Little, who was 16 at the time of the crash on May 28, 2022, is currently 17. Based on previous courtroom testimonies, Little is being held in a juvenile facility in New York, where he also faces criminal charges.
In addition to stabbing a man and stealing his vehicle, Little and co-defendant Adam Levert, also of Rochester, NY, were charged with stealing a second vehicle in Ellicottville, NY and driving it en route to the Carolinas in Pennsylvania.
In Blair County, State Police Officer Eric Griswold stopped the teenager’s vehicle, which was traveling at 150 km/h on I-99, and tried to stop the driver – later identified as Little – who got off at 17th Street. But after a brief stop, Little headed north on Valley View Boulevard, through red lights, weaving through traffic and going at speeds of up to 130 miles per hour until he crashed near Tipton.
In her most recent ruling, Doyle acknowledged that Weeks’ position in supporting the criminal conspiracy to commit a robbery was based on the Rochester robbery and belief that Little and Levert intended to continue stealing cars to get to their destination in the Carolinas to get .
However, Doyle found that this belief reflected a misstatement of Griswold’s testimony during a preliminary hearing. The judge said her review of the record indicated that when they decided to steal the second car, Griswold asked Little why he and Levert didn’t steal gas for the empty vehicle. The trooper said Little didn’t give a reason, just saying he did it.
“Although this lack of explanation is viewed as a plan to steal cars instead of gas, which he did not say, it is not a plan that (Little) agreed with his co-defendant to cause (robbery) serious bodily harm Injury to another person in the course of a theft…” Doyle wrote in her judgment.
In her verdict, the judge also pointed out that nobody was physically harmed when the young people stole the second vehicle. They took a parked vehicle with keys inside, which the judge said would be theft, not robbery.
Doyle also acknowledged that the face masks and a machete – found in the stolen car after the teens’ accident – were offered as evidence of intent to continue stealing people’s cars on their way to the Carolinas.
But she disagreed with this conclusion, writing: “This is a strong suspicion and conjecture that these juvenile defendants were malefactors willing to commit any crime in the book.”
During November and December, Doyle heard testimony about Anastasi’s request that Little’s charges be referred to a juvenile court. This matter remains on hold pending review of the appeal by the Superior Court. The court set a deadline of February 21 for the filing of a legal brief in support of the appeal.
Mirror Staff Writer Kay Stephens can be reached at 814-946-7456.