Rodriguez sentenced to three years for convenience store robbery
WILLMAR -- The fourth and final suspect, lone juvenile and alleged ringleader in last October's armed robbery at the Sunray Express convenience and liquor stores in Willmar was sentenced Wednesday to just over three years in prison.
WILLMAR - The fourth and final suspect, lone juvenile and alleged ringleader in last October's armed robbery at the Sunray Express convenience and liquor stores in Willmar was sentenced Wednesday to just over three years in prison.
"Mr. Rodriguez is very sorry for what he has done," attorney John Mack told Judge Donald Spilseth at the sentencing hearing in Kandiyohi County District Court.
The court did not hear an apology from Frederick Crispin Rodriguez, 18, who was short-spoken, speaking only when pressed. He declined to make a statement at the hearing.
The 41-month prison sentence for Rodriguez fell at the bottom of the sentencing guidelines for the crime, as negotiated in Rodriguez's Dec. 20 plea agreement to first-degree aggravated robbery.
He served 441 days in the Kandiyohi County Jail as his case proceeded in Kandiyohi County District Court. He received credit for that jail time as part of his sentence.
Spilseth said he believed the prison sentence appropriate, given Rodriguez's age - only 17 at the time of the robbery - and mild criminal history.
"People make mistakes," he told Rodriguez in court. "Let's hope you learn from that so nothing like this happens again."
The other robbery suspects - Fernando Zuniga, Jose Agapito Sanchez, and Alfredo Luna Jr. - all told authorities in their respective court cases that Rodriguez acted as the ringleader in the robbery, threatening them with violence if they did not follow through.
Court documents say that on Oct. 23, 2015, Rodriguez and Luna robbed the convenience store, while Sanchez and Zuniga robbed the adjoining liquor store, along Kandiyohi County Road 5 in west Willmar. Rodriguez and Zuniga carried firearms.
The four left the scene with a cash drawer containing $1,340.60. In separate sentencing hearings, they were ordered to pay back the money jointly as restitution.
Rodriguez's "ringleader" status and wielding of a gun during the robbery prompted Spilseth to grant a prosecution request in February to move his robbery charges from juvenile court to adult court. The Minnesota Court of Appeals later upheld Spilseth's ruling.
Luna, Sanchez and Zuniga pleaded guilty months ago, most recently Luna in June, and each was sentenced to prison terms ranging from three to four years.
Rodriguez's case was complicated by his initial juvenile status and additional charges in Kandiyohi and Renville counties for stealing, possessing and burying 12 guns, including a rifle reported missing from a Minnesota State Patrol squad car in October 2015.
Two of those firearms, a handgun and a sawed-off shotgun, were used in the October 2015 armed robbery, court documents say.
Those additional cases also came to a close Wednesday. Rodriguez was sentenced for a juvenile felony theft charge from Renville County for stealing the assault rifle and magazines from the squad car, and also pleaded guilty and was sentenced for one felony count of receiving stolen property for possessing a stolen shotgun.
He admitted in court to entering a parked vehicle in Willmar and stealing a gun, then later burying it.
Both sentences came with pronounced prison time of just over a year, to be served at the same time as his robbery sentence. He was ordered to pay $2,866.60 in restitution for the theft charge. Restitution is yet to be determined for the receiving stolen property charge.
An additional Kandiyohi County juvenile fifth-degree drug possession charge was dismissed Wednesday as part of the plea agreement.