Jail inmate to stand trial on escape, weapon possession charges

August 21, 2013

A Washington County jail inmate, already awaiting trial on charges of attempted homicide and robbery for two convenience store robberies and the robbery of a pizza delivery driver earlier this year, now faces trial on new charges.

Shayne Coffield, 23, was ordered held for court Tuesday by District Judge Robert Redlinger on charges of escape, inmate possessing a weapon and institutional vandalism. City police Detective Daniel Rush filed the charges against Coffield.

Corrections officer Andrew Taylor testified that Coffield’s voice sounded muffled when the inmate called over the intercom in his cell with a request for a visit to the jail law library.

“It sounded like (the intercom) was covered by something,” Taylor said.

Taylor found a cream on the intercom. He also discovered holes in the walls that had toilet paper stuffed into them to hide the crevices. The holes, Taylor said, were deep enough that he could insert his entire finger.

The corrections officer also said he found a shank under the desk. He described the shank as a piece of plastic that had been sharpened on one end.

Taylor alerted his shift supervisor, Capt. William Kramer, of his findings. Kramer said he found another hole under the window in the cell, and that Coffield had broken through at least one wall.

Coffield had been in the cell for about 13 days before the discovery was made. Kramer testified the cells are inspected before inmates are moved in to make sure there is no damage from a previous inmate.

Coffield and Christopher Pitzarella, 24, of Washington, were arrested by city police on charges they robbed the Uni-Mart on East Maiden Street March 27. Coffield, who also is charged with attempted homicide, is accused of shooting a clerk in the leg.

The pair and Michael Stienstraw Jr., 27, of Claysville, also were arrested by South Strabane police in the robbery of a pizza deliveryman March 9, and Coffield and Stienstraw are accused of robbing the Isaly’s store in Canton Township.

Coffield also had been scheduled for a hearing on a charge of simple assault for allegedly assaulting fellow inmate Robert Murphy. That hearing was continued after it was learned that Murphy is now housed in Allegheny County jail. No new hearing date has been set.

Kathie O. Warco has covered the police beat and transportation for the Observer-Reporter for more than 25 years. She graduated from Duquesne University with a degree in journalism.

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