Charge dropped against driver in Walla Walla robbery case

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WALLA WALLA -- Officials have dismissed a criminal charge against a local teenager who was accused of being involved in a robbery of the Zip Zone Conoco in February.

Carlos U. Ramirez, 16, of 368 Myrtle St., was charged in the Juvenile Department of Superior Court with first-degree rendering criminal assistance.

Authorities say he drove the robbery suspect, Corey J. Reece, to and from the Zip Zone at 110 N. Ninth Ave., which Reece allegedly held up about 1 a.m. Feb. 18.

But Ramirez, who reportedly didn't enter the store with Reece, maintains he had no idea a robbery was going to take place and wasn't informed after Reece returned to the car. Ramirez says he didn't learn about the alleged heist until hours later from friends.

Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Adam Malcolm said in an interview Tuesday, "We just don't have the evidence to show otherwise."

Malcolm asked last week that the case be dismissed, at least for the time being. The charge can be refiled if new evidence comes to light.

Judge Donald W. Schacht signed the dismissal order Thursday.

Reece, 25, of 923 1/2 W. Chestnut St., is awaiting trial on charges of first-degree robbery and second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm.

He is accused of entering the Zip Zone, taking two 12-packs of beer from the cooler, retrieving a pistol from his pants and threatening the clerk.

Ramirez reportedly told police he had driven his father's Toyota Camry -- with Reece in the front passenger seat -- to the area of the store. Ramirez said Reece got out, returned from the store with two 12-packs of beer and Ramirez drove them away westbound.

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