College Place teen to serve about two years for robbery

Robert L. DeLeon had pleaded guilty to robbing a truck driver last winter in Eastgate.

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WALLA WALLA -- A 16-year-old youth who earlier pleaded guilty to robbing a delivery truck driver last winter in Eastgate was sentenced this morning in the Juvenile Department of Walla Walla County Superior Court.

Robert L. DeLeon was ordered to serve 103-129 weeks in a state juvenile institution. Judge John Lohrmann gave DeLeon credit for 93 days already served.

DeLeon pleaded guilty April 30 to a charge of first-degree robbery. Police said he is one of two male teenagers who was involved in a confrontation with Jonathan Dickson near the back door of Jo-Ann Fabric & Craft, 481 N. Wilbur Ave., about 8 p.m. Feb. 2.

Dickson, of Portland, had been in the cab of his truck when he heard noises and came upon DeLeon and the other teen who had broken into the semi's trailer, according to a police report filed in court. Officials said DeLeon struck Dickson with a decorative lantern that had been taken from the trailer and both teens fled through a yard.

DeLeon, of 525 S.E. Sixth St., College Place, later was identified as a suspect and arrested Feb. 10. In an interview with police before he was arrested, he admitted entering the trailer and assaulting Dickson, according to the police report.

Dickson was treated at a local hospital for facial lacerations following the attack.

DeLeon also had been charged with second-degree assault and second-degree vehicle prowl, but those charges were dropped in exchange for his guilty plea.

Also, he was charged in an unrelated case with second-degree malicious mischief for allegedly spray painting gang graffiti, but that case also was dismissed.

At the sentencing, family and friends spoke up for DeLeon, saying the robbery was completely out of character for him.

"I'm not condoning for one moment what happened," said local attorney Larry Siegel. He said DeLeon's actions were a case of "bad choices which went from bad to worse."

Siegel offered to participate in whatever could be done to aid DeLeon and urged Lohrmann to have the youth brought back to Walla Walla after completing his sentence so that he could be with people who would help him.

Lohrmann said he was constrained by the law, but urged DeLeon to take advantage of any opportunities he could find during his detention to turn his life around.

"You can sit and marinate in it or you can get past it," Lohrmann told DeLeon.

Union-Bulletin reporter Andy Porter contributed to this report.

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