A McKees Rocks man rammed into two women's cars before dragging a third woman out of her car and stealing it during a robbery and carjacking spree in January, witnesses testified today.
"I thought he was going to shoot me or rape me," said Angela George, one of three women victims who testified against accused carjacker Joseph Manna at his preliminary hearing this afternoon. "I couldn't believe what was happening to me."
Her testimony, coupled with that of two other women, was enough to persuade Magisterial District Judge Mary Murray of Coraopolis to order Manna to stand trial in those attacks.
Manna, 27, is charged with two counts each of receiving stolen property, aggravated assault, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, and reckless driving, three counts of reckless endangerment, and one count each of robbery and criminal mischief in connection with the Jan. 15 attacks.
Manna's formal arraignment is scheduled for April 11 in the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas. Manna appeared in court today with a public defender.
Police said he rear-ended two vehicles on Spring Run and Brodhead roads, causing one woman to crash her car into a utility pole. Following the crash, Manna fled and approached another woman about using her cell phone, police said. He then pulled the woman from her car and stole her vehicle, which he drove to West Viriginia, police said. No one was injured in the attacks.
Police said Manna also assaulted and stole a black pickup truck from a Stowe Township couple before driving to Moon on the morning of Jan. 15.
Lori Cappieris, who testified that she was driving to work about 6 a.m. that morning, said Manna backed the truck into her vehicle as she was driving on Spring Run Road.
She said Manna began tailgating her before he pulled his truck alongside her car. He passed her, hit his brakes and backed into the vehicle, she said, but she was able to drive away with no major damage to her car.
"We were window to window," Cappieris said. "At that time he pulled the truck ahead of mine and backed up into the front of my car."
Cappieris said she feared that Manna was attempting to wreck her car and rob her.
"It was kind of like playing chicken," she said. "He was trying to get me off the road."
Police said Manna then pulled his vehicle into the parking lot of the Brodhead Chiropractic Center, where he approached Melissa Winiecki and asked her for a cigarette and directions to Pittsburgh International Airport.
Winiecki testified that Manna followed her out of the parking lot and struck her Chevrolet Impala from behind on Brodhead Road, causing her to crash into a utility pole.
Winiecki said that the crash "totaled" her car and shattered its back window. Police said Manna drove away and parked his truck at the intersection of Brodhead and Purdy roads.
That's where George said she encountered the truck while on her way to work and had to pull over in her blue Mini Cooper.
She said Manna, whose truck was in the middle of the road, approached her car and asked to use her cell phone, saying his truck ran out of gas. As George dialed a phone number for Manna, he reached into the vehicle and forced her out, pulling her coat and shouting "Get out" repeatedly.
George and Manna struggled for several minutes before Manna got into the driver's seat of her car and performed a U-turn on Purdy Road, she said. Her purse and several credit cards were in the car, she said.
Police in Morgantown, WV, arrested Manna on Jan. 16, according to the Monongalia County Office of Emergency Management. Police in Morgantown received an anonymous call from Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown reporting that Manna had sought medical treatment there. Police located him at that day at the Bartlett House, a homeless shelter in Morgantown.
Manna remains held at the Allegheny County Jail.