Willmar man pleads guilty to role in spate of summer store robberies
WILLMAR -- Brian John Dewane, 26, of Willmar pleaded guilty Monday to a felony charge of aggravated robbery for his role in the armed robberies of two Willmar convenience stores.
As part of a plea agreement reached in Kandiyohi County District Court, five other felony aggravated robbery and assault charges, along with a gross misdemeanor charge for theft, will be dismissed. He will be sentenced Jan. 26.
Dewane and Dustin Stanley Streich, 20, of Willmar were charged in the investigation. Streich's next court appearance is a settlement conference on Jan. 16.
He has pleaded not guilty to the same set of charges Dewane faced.
The charges are in connection to the June 26 robbery of the Holiday Station store along Litchfield Avenue Southwest and the July 17 robbery of the Tesoro station along the 3000 block of First Avenue Northwest.
According to the complaint, a Willmar police officer was dispatched to the Holiday station June 26. The clerk said a man brandished a semi-automatic handgun and asked for money and cigarettes, to be put into a bag. She described the man as between 20 and 30 years of age and 150 to 160 pounds. She said he was wearing a black hooded sweatshirt, jean shorts and white socks and shoes. He made off with $220 in cash and $167 worth of cigarettes.
Police interviewed a witness who said he had been out on his porch and had seen a vehicle park just down the street from the Holiday station. He said the car's lights were off but that the engine was running and the driver remained in the car.
The witness also said a man approached the passenger side of the vehicle with something in his arms and that the car drove off eastbound on Highway 12.
Local officers worked with officials from Sauk Rapids during the investigation. A Holiday store in that community, which is 45 minutes from Willmar, had also been robbed.
In that case, two armed suspects entered the store and took cash and cigarettes. The clothing and description of one of the suspects matched Streich. The other suspect appeared to be a black male.
Investigators also used security footage from the Kandiyohi County Courthouse, as Streich was in the building on either June 26 or 27. He was identified by courthouse personnel. The person in the video appeared to be the same person caught on tape in the Sauk Rapids robbery.
Police were dispatched to the Tesoro station around 10 p.m. July 17 on a report that the store had been robbed at gunpoint. The owner said a white male, dressed in black, held him up for money and cigarettes, totaling $480 in value.
In both robberies, customers in the stores gave police descriptions of the suspects, said the man had pointed the gun at them and told them to move to where they could be seen and not to talk.
Officers working on the case had suspected Streich and Dewane and went to a Willmar home where both were living. Both were arrested after a search revealed a black ski mask, sweatshirt and gloves and cigarettes in a vehicle at the home.
During an interview, Dewane admitted that the pair committed the robbery because they were short of money. He alleged that Streich wore the black clothing and used a black carbon dioxide-powered pistol during the robbery. He said he parked away from the store because he didn't want anyone to see that he was connected to the crime. He said Streich gave him money and put the cigarettes in the vehicle.
Dewane also admitted to their involvement in the Holiday store robbery. He said that he was the driver and that Streich actually went into the store to commit the robbery.
He also admitted that they had committed the Sauk Rapids robbery, but said another black individual wore the ski mask and went into the store.
A search warrant was executed and officers found sweatshirts that matched those worn by the robbers in the security videos, two carbon dioxide-powered pistols, cartons of cigarettes, ski masks and cash.