Plea deal calls for prison term in rob­bery case

Yuma Sun - - NEWS - BY JAMES GIL­BERT @YSJAMESGILBERT James Gil­bert can be reached at jgilbert@yu­masun.com or 539-6854.

At about 5 p.m. on Feb. 22, a man wear­ing a ski mask en­tered a Fam­ily Dol­lar store in Yuma, dis­played a hand­gun and de­manded money from a cashier. He then left with an undis­closed amount of cash.

Joel Lara ad­mit­ted he was that man Wednes­day morn­ing by plead­ing guilty to one count of armed rob­bery dur­ing what was a change of plea hear­ing held in Yuma County Su­pe­rior Court. He is sched­uled to be sen­tenced next month.

“Guilty,” replied the 24-yearold Lara — who was on pa­role at the time he com­mit­ted the crime — when asked by Su­pe­rior Court Judge David Haws how he pleaded to the of­fense.

In re­turn for his guilty plea, charges of ag­gra­vated as­sault and mis­con­duct in­volv­ing weapons — for be­ing a pro­hib­ited pos­ses­sor — against him were dis­missed.

In ex­plain­ing the terms of the plea agree­ments to him, Judge Haws told Lara that he could re­ceive a prison sen­tence rang­ing from seven years in prison to 21 years, with the pre­sump­tive sen­tence be­ing 10 1/2 years.

“Pro­ba­tion is not avail­able,” Haws said.

How­ever, the plea, Haws con­tin­ued, did con­tain a stip­u­la­tion that Lara be sen­tenced to a prison term of 8 1/2 years, and that the sen­tence be served con­cur­rently with the sen­tence he is re­ceiv­ing in an­other case.

Lara, who has two prior felony con­vic­tions, will also have to serve a term of com­mu­nity su­per­vi­sion, which is like pa­role, once he is re­leased from prison. The length of that su­per­vi­sion is equal to one-sev­enth of the length of the prison sen­tence.

Haws then sched­uled Lara’s sen­tenc­ing for 8:30 a.m. on Aug. 22.

Ac­cord­ing to Yuma po­lice, of­fi­cers who re­sponded to the Fam­ily Dol­lar store at 2298 W. 8th St. were able to iden­tify Lara as the sus­pect.

Lara was spot­ted a short time later in the area rid­ing a bike. He was ar­rested af­ter a short foot pur­suit and booked into the Yuma County jail.

JOEL LARA

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