PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The man accused of carjacking a woman and her two children outside of a family entertainment center in February will go to trial.
The suspect, 32-year-old Jay Mendenhall, was in court Monday on charges of aggravated assault, car robbery and other charges.
Mendenhall allegedly carjacked a woman and her two children, ages 3 years and 7 months, as they pulled into the parking lot of the FunFest Entertainment Center on Freeport Road in Harmar Township.
Mendenhall’s attorney and mother said Monday they blame a drug called 3-MeO-PCP, saying he was under the influence at the time of the carjacking.
“It’s totally uncharacteristic of his character,” said Mendenhall’s stepmother Lorrie Schrag. “He’s normally a very mild, giving, caring, kind person.”
The name of the suspect on the criminal complaint reads “Jeanette Mendenhall,” but people who know the suspect call him Jay. Mendenhall was born as a woman, but now lives, and is viewed legally in the court system, as a man.
“She remembers taking the drug, barely remembers seeing the woman and the defendant is very upset that she put this woman through that and then remembers having an accident in the car and walking home,” said defense attorney Bob Stewart.
Drivers reported seeing the carjacker driving erratically in the silver Kia Sorento.
Police say the suspect crashed into a guardrail and a utility pole, which he knocked over in Indiana Township.
That’s when he abandoned the vehicle and took off on foot.
Investigators searched in vain, until a witness who claimed to know the suspect, came forward and identified Mendenhall.
Stay with KDKA for more information.