WALLA WALLA -- Two men pleaded guilty and were sentenced Tuesday afternoon in Walla Walla County Superior Court in connection with the robberies of two customers outside a convenience store in Burbank last summer.
Samuel Barrera, 23, of Prosser, entered a guilty plea to a reduced charge of second-degree robbery. Judge Donald W. Schacht then sentenced him to a year-and-a-day in prison. The sentence, recommended by the prosecution, is the low end of the standard-range penalty for the crime. He could have received up to 14 months.
Co-defendant Jacob J. Munoz, 23, of Pasco, pleaded guilty to first-degree rendering criminal assistance and Schacht handed him a six-month jail term, with credit for that amount of time already served. Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Joe Golden explained that Munoz's culpability in the robberies was less than Barrera's.
The defendants also face charges in the Tri-Cities for alleged similar criminal activity there.
Munoz and Barrera initially were charged in Walla Walla County with two counts of first-degree robbery.
Officials said the holdups in Burbank occurred about 12:30 a.m. June 30 when a man later identified as Barrera approached the victims, Richard Lybbert and Shelton Gilley, who were standing next to a gas pump outside the Sun Mart store at 35 Apple Lane.
Barrera placed what looked like a pistol against Lybbert's neck, demanded his wallet and grabbed it, according to authorities. Barrera then reportedly turned the gun toward Gilley and collected a couple of dollars in change that Gilley dropped to the ground. Barrera then ran around the south corner of the store and the victims told the clerk to call 911, officials said.
Lybbert told authorities his wallet contained miscellaneous items, including $4 and a credit card. The card was found in a pocket of Munoz's pants after the suspects were apprehended that evening in Benton County following a pursuit of a vehicle they were in, according to a Walla Walla County Sheriff's Office report filed in court.
Officials also located two realistic-looking toy pistols in the vehicle.
The report says Lybbert and Gilley positively identified Barrera in a photo montage as the man who robbed them.
Terry McConn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 526-8319.