Man dies during attempted break-in, police sayA Phoenixville man died after apparently trying to break into a local business over the weekend, police said.

Employees of a mechanics shop in the 1900 block of Concord Road arrived for work on Monday to discover the body of Charles Ancrum, 50, hanging from a garage door window, according to police Chief Tim Wilson.

Ancrum's body was suspended from the garage door when he was discovered, according to police. His head and left arm were stuck in the small window on the garage door, which was on the side of the building, the chief said.

"You couldn't see the door from the street," Wilson said.

Because the business had been closed all weekend, it is believed Ancrum's body had been there for about two days, police said.

"The man was trying to break into the business and was standing on a work horse," Wilson said. "He broke a small pane of glass in the garage door, which is on the side of the building, and put his head and arm inside of the window."

According to Wilson, it appears the workhorse slipped out from under Ancrum's feet, trapping his head and arm inside the garage window.

An autopsy was conducted by Delaware County Medical Examiner Dr. Fredric N. Hellman on Monday. Ancrum died of asphyxiation as a consequence of a neck compression/entrapment, according to Hellman's finding sheet.

The manner of death was ruled an accident.

Weekend crash under investigation

A weekend crash that killed a 13-year-old girl and injured her older sister remains under investigation, police said Monday.

Hannah Robb of Downingtown was killed in the two-vehicle crash about 11 p.m. Saturday on Pottstown Pike at Shoen Road. Robb was riding with her sister, Mia Robb, 18, who was driving a red convertible Volvo, police said.

Hannah Robb was pronounced dead at the scene. Her sister was flown to The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania with neck and back injuries. Monday, police said Mia Robb was in fair condition.

When police arrived Saturday, they found a silver Jeep Cherokee and the convertible heavily damaged and blocking the highway. The Jeep's driver, Joshua Giarra, 22, of Phoenixville, was also injured.

A witness told police the Jeep had been speeding south on North Pottstown Pike just prior to the crash. The witness said the Jeep traveled through a red traffic signal at Marchwood Road before the collision with the Volvo at the next intersection, Shoen Road.

Police said a preliminary investigation indicates Mia Robb was attempting to cross North Pottstown Pike to travel west on Shoen Road.

The crash remains under investigation, police said.

"Evidence is still being collected," said West Whiteland Sgt. Martin Malloy.

West Whiteland police ask anyone with information on the crash to contact them at 610-363-0200.

New Garden man takes plea deal in rape case

A New Garden man about to stand trial for allegedly raping his ex-girlfriend at her West Marlborough home changed his mind Monday and agreed to enter pleas in the case - for the second time this year.

Robert Allen Pierce, 34, of Line Road, entered a guilty plea to a single count of aggravated assault and another plea of no contest to a charge of indecent assault before Judge Howard F. Riley Jr. He was sentenced to a term of three to eight years in prison and two years consecutive probation as part of an agreement worked out between his attorney and the prosecution.

Riley and the attorneys were ready to begin picking a jury panel to hear the rape case against Pierce when he made the decision to accept the prosecution's offer.

In January, Pierce was set to go to trial on the same charges when he abruptly decided to plead guilty to a single count of sexual assault. Sentencing on the charge was deferred at the time until a pre-sentencing investigation was completed.

But in April, Pierce, 34, changed his mind a second time and asked to withdraw his guilty plea. Because he had not yet been sentenced, Riley allowed him to take back the plea and await trial.

In this instance, however, Riley told Pierce if he changed his mind again it would be harder to reverse course; it is harder for defendants who have been sentenced to withdraw their pleas, he told Pierce.

Pierce had been charged with rape, a first-degree felony that carries a possible term of 10 to 20 years in prison. Assistant District Attorney Bonnie Cox-Shaw said the lesser prison term had been offered to Pierce to spare the victim, a 49-year-old former West Marlborough resident, from testifying at trial.

Cox-Shaw said she had discussed the sentence with the woman, who did not attend the brief sentencing hearing, and said that she had agreed with it.

"Our intent was to have the violent aspect of the crime and the sexual aspect of the offense reflected on his record," Cox-Shaw said after the hearing before Riley. "She was comfortable with that." Cox-Shaw also said a protection from abuse order against Pierce would be extended until 2012.

He must also undergo an evaluation as a sexual offender and complete any required treatment.

Nicole M. Thompson, the assistant public defender who represented Pierce, declined comment on the plea.

In pleading no contest to the charge of indecent assault, Pierce did not admit to the charges that he sexually assaulted the woman against her will. But Riley warned him that may play a role in how he is treated as part of his evaluation as a sex offender. To complete that treatment if ordered, he would not be allowed to deny his culpability.

Court records say Pierce went to the woman's home on North Chatham Road about 6:30 p.m. Aug. 15, about one month after she had broken up with Pierce because of his abusive behavior.

The woman, whose name is being withheld by the Daily Local News, told police she had spoken to Pierce on her porch after she saw him looking in her windows. She told him their relationship was over and that she did not want to see him anymore.

When she told him she had to leave, he asked to use her bathroom.

Once inside the house, Pierce grabbed the woman and forced her into her bedroom, where he threw her onto a bed and forced himself on her. He pinned her to the bed until she could not fight back anymore, she told police.

After the assault, she drove to a relative's house and was later taken to Brandywine Hospital, where nurses called police. Pierce has been held in Chester County Prison in lieu of $10,000 bail since his arrest on Aug. 16. Under terms of the plea agreement, he will be eligible for parole from state prison in 2009, although Riley warned him there was no guarantee he would win his release at the end of his minimum term.

"Hang out with the right people and not the wrong people (while in prison) and you'll have a chance of getting out closer to your minimum," Riley told Pierce.

"I'll do that, your honor," Pierce responded.

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