Pleas from his attorney, family fall on deaf ears as local robber gets prison time
WILLMAR -- Despite pleas by family members and his attorney, Dustin Stanley Streich, 21, of Willmar, was sentenced Friday to 41 months in prison on a felony charge of aggravated robbery for his role in the armed robberies of two Willmar convenience stores.
"I don't take any gratification in this sentence, Mr. Streich," Judge David L. Mennis said after handing down the sentence in Kandiyohi County District Court. "I'm doing it for public safety reasons."
Streich was also ordered to pay a $50 fine and $1,966.80 in restitution, jointly with his co-defendant, Brian John Dewane, 26, of Willmar. He was given credit for 90 days served in jail.
The sentence was handed down after Streich's sister, mother and his attorney, Greg Holmstorm, told the judge that the young man was a vulnerable adult who would absorb only bad things in prison.
Jean Streich, his mother, began at the beginning, informing the judge that her adopted son suffered from fetal alcohol syndrome because his mother used alcohol and drugs throughout her pregnancy, was on drugs that aren't even used anymore when he was 17 months old, was in a psychological facility by the time he was 6 years old, took many medications and was in special education for his entire life.
She said he went off his medications in an attempt to join the military and that they were in the process of having Streich be declared a vulnerable adult.
Holmstrom, his attorney, agreed that his client was vulnerable, especially to the negative influences of criminals in prison. "He is a very vulnerable young man," Holstrom said. "Not a hardened criminal."
Streich cried as he told Judge Mennis that he would go back and change his actions if he could. He said he knew what he did was wrong and that a day doesn't go by that he doesn't think of the trauma to the people he robbed at gunpoint.
"My parents tried really hard to try and bring me up right," he said. "I'm not violent. I don't hurt people."
Mennis also voiced concern about Streich's vulnerability in prison and asked Streich's probation officer, Bob Tepfer, to forward information about Streich's condition to the Department of Corrections.
The judge's concern was also for the public's safety and the victims of the June 26 and July 17 robberies of two gas stations in Willmar. "It was a pellet gun, but they didn't know that," Mennis said.
Streich pleaded guilty Feb. 17 to an aggravated robbery charge in Benton County for a Sauk Rapids burglary connected by law enforcement to the June 26 heist of the local Holiday station. He will be sentenced on that charge on April 16. Dewane is also charged in that case and has a settlement conference set for March 12.
Dewane was sentenced Jan. 26 to 41 months in prison on the local charges. Like Streich, his mother pleaded for leniency at the sentencing. At the sentencing, Marcia Dewane said that prison was not the best answer for her son, whom she said suffered a traumatic brain injury and wasn't taking his medication at the time of the robberies.
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 June 26 to the Holiday Station. The clerk said a man brandished a semiautomatic handgun and asked for money and cigarettes to be put into a bag. 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 U.S. 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. 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.