Plea deal calls for prison term in robbery case
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.