|Patrick McElheney (L) Randy Sanchez|
Thursday, December 4, 2014
Bar Louie employees testify they recognized voices of armed robbers
Posted: Wednesday, November 26, 2014
As soon as the guy in the black mask pointing a gun at him started talking, Mike Kelly said that he recognized a unique phrase that the gunman used.
“You big as (expletive) for nothing, don’t be no hero,” the gunman told him.
Immediately, Kelly — a dishwasher at the Bar Louie restaurant — recognized the voice as his coworker, Randy Sanchez.
“That is the first person who came into my mind. He always says that, every day at work,” Kelly testified Wednesday, one of seven witnesses at a preliminary hearing for Sanchez, 27, of Philadelphia, and co-defendant Patrick McElheney, 27, no fixed address.
The men are charged in the Oct. 10 armed robbery at the popular Bensalem restaurant, where police allege they stole more than $10,000. One employee required four stitches after suffering a facial wound when she fell after a suspect struck her with a stun gun.
Kelly wasn’t the only Bar Louie employee who testified to recognizing Sanchez’s voice, either.
Server Kira Ansuini testified that she recognized Sanchez’s heavy Hispanic accent when he said to her the night of the robbery, “Yo, shorty, gimme your keys and phone.” She insisted that Sanchez has a distinct way of pronouncing “shorty,” a word he often used while working as a dishwasher at the restaurant.
Bartender Ashley Lynn, who said that she had a conversation with one of the robbers, testified that she recognized his voice on a tape Bensalem police played for her earlier this week. Afterward, she testified that police told her the voice she heard was McElheney.
When McElheney’s attorney, Richard Fink, questioned Lynn, she insisted that the voice on the police tape matched the voice of the robber she spoke with.
“Have you heard him talk? He has a very distinct voice,” Lynn responded. “I know that was the voice.”
The Bar Louie employees each told similar stories of the events surrounding the early morning robbery, which occurred after the restaurant closed for business.
Each employee testified to seeing at least two or three robbers dressed in black and wearing black masks and carrying a gun, large knife or stun gun. Two employees testified that one robber wore a gray hoodie. One man testified one of the robbers wore goggles over the ski mask.
They also testified that the robbers also stole smartphones, a pocket knife, cash, iPods, a $500 paycheck and keys before forcing them to crawl into a walk-in refrigerator and barricading the door. After about a half hour, the employees were able to get out.
Restaurant manager Jessica Gustaitis testified that she gave the robbers the password to open the restaurant’s safe, but after three failed tries the suspects forced her to open it at gunpoint and she placed about $10,000 into a blue duffle bag.
Police allege the suspects stole Kelly’s bright yellow Mustang and used it as a get away car. The Mustang was found about 90 minutes after the robbery in the 3000 block of Derry Road in Philadelphia. Inside, police recovered a red and black glove that Kelly testified wasn’t in the car before the robbery; police allege Sanchez’s DNA matched the DNA taken off the glove.
At least three employees also testified that they noticed a suspicious car — a dark-colored Toyota Corolla with its lights on and running — parked car in front of the Rockhill Road restaurant around 2:45 a.m.
In court documents, Bensalem police allege that Sanchez’s live-in girlfriend claimed that Sanchez admitted to robbing Bar Louie with McElheney and using the money to buy a car. The girlfriend also told police Sanchez was not in their bed early in the morning of Oct. 10 and her Toyota Corolla and keys were missing.
On the witness stand, Bensalem Detective Michael Moretti testified that he spoke with McElheney after he was taken into police custody and he admitted to driving the Corolla to various locations near Bar Louie the morning of the robbery while communicating with Sanchez on his cellphone.
While Fink and Sanchez’s defense attorney, Marc Yanoff, argued that voice recognition wasn’t enough evidence to hold their clients for trial, District Judge Joseph Falcone disagreed; he held all charges including 42 felony counts of robbery.
Both men both remain incarcerated in Bucks County prison in lieu of 10 percent of $250,000 bail each.