Man to stand trial for robbery, assault

January 9, 2013

A North Franklin Township man testified Wednesday he thought nothing about accepting a ride from his brother’s friend the night of Jan. 2.

Martin Williamson, 22, said he never expected Christopher Michael McGrail, 19, of 391 W. Chestnut St., Washington, was planning to beat and rob him after making the offer.

Williamson testified Wednesday at a preliminary hearing for McGrail in Washington County Central Court, where District Judge David Mark ordered that McGrail face trial on charges of aggravated assault, robbery, theft, simple assault and criminal conspiracy.

Williamson said he was walking on Weirich Avenue in Canton Township about 10:40 p.m. when a vehicle pulled up beside him. He said McGrail was in the front passenger seat of the car driven by a woman he did not know. Another man, identified only as Brandon, was seated in the rear seat behind the driver.

When the car got near the top of Marra Avenue, the driver stopped, and McGrail and the other man got out. Williamson said he then heard the trunk open and close. He said the next thing he knew, the two men opened the rear passenger door and ordered him out.

According to Williamson, McGrail proceeded to assault him while the other man pointed a gun at him. Williamson said McGrail punched him numerous times in the head, knocking him to the ground.

When Williamson pulled a 4-inch knife from his pocket, he said he heard Brandon yell “knife” and he then heard a clicking noise like the gun was being discharged.

As he tried to get up, Williamson said he grabbed the revolver. While struggling over the gun, he said McGrail stepped on his shoulder and took the gun.

As Williamson was getting back on his feet, the men walked back to their car. Williamson said he walked in the opposite direction when he saw a woman cleaning snow from her vehicle and asked for help.

The woman allowed him to use her cellphone. He called his brother, who then called state police. They then met at the Canton Township Volunteer Fire Department, and Williamson was taken to Canonsburg Hospital for treatment of a fractured nose and shoulder blade, along with numerous contusions.

Williamson said he knew McGrail because he had worked with his brother and that McGrail had even stayed overnight at their house last fall.

McGrail will remain lodged in the Washington County jail on $100,000 straight bond.

Linda Metz has been with the Observer-Reporter since 2000, covering Washington County courts and politics, as well as the city of Washington. She previously was employed by the Tribune Review. She is a graduate of Point Park College, now a university, in Pittsburgh.

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