By Joe Pinchot
Herald Staff Writer
MERCER COUNTY —
An 30-year-old Edinboro man who led police on a manhunt in February pleaded guilty Aug. 6 to a charge of theft that consolidated separate cases filed by Hempfield Township and state police.
Aaron M. Braden, also known as Aaron Branden, also was charged with burglary, receiving stolen property, unauthorized use of a vehicle and conspiracy to commit theft, all charges abandoned as part of a plea deal.
The lengthy chain of events that led to Braden started when a Dodge Durango was stolen at 6:45 p.m. Feb. 25 from a car lot in South Pymatuning Township.
Hempfield Township police encountered the Durango Feb. 26 on Methodist Road when they responded to a call of an attempt to steal an all-terrain vehicle from a dealership on Hadley Road.
The ATV was recovered on Methodist and two men took off in the Durango. They later stopped and ran.
The vehicle contained a jacket with the name “Dauber” on it from Donjon Shipbuilding, and police traced it to Braden.
The second man has not been publicly identified and no one else has been charged.
Several hours later, police received a report that a GMC Sierra was stolen from a home on Kennard Road in Sugar Grove Township. The keys had been left in the pickup.
At 12:30 p.m., police were called with a report that a suspicious man had asked a resident on the 100 block of Cherry Hill Road for gasoline. The man’s description matched Braden’s and police from several departments were called and searched an area bounded by Methodist, Ball Hill Road, Kennard and Cherry Hill in Salem and Sugar Grove townships.
Braden was arrested, although details of the arrest were not released.
State police charged Braden with stealing a pickup Feb. 26 from a garage in the 1000 block of Beatty School Road, Salem Township.
Braden told police he drove the truck to Pierpont, Ohio, and met up with someone there who was driving a stolen truck. They traded trucks and Braden re-entered Pennsylvania and was arrested in that truck, police said.
Braden admitted being involved in “multiple criminal incidents” Feb. 25 in Mercer County, police said.
Braden is in Mercer County Jail.