Slew of armed robberies brings 10 years in prison
A 10-year prison sentence was given to Dylan Burdick, the 20-year-old from Incline Village who financed his addiction to drugs by using a BB gun and mask to rob pedestrians and store clerks last winter.
Backed by family and friends who packed one side of El Dorado County Superior Court, Burdick was chided by Judge Lasarow on the string of nine robberies Burdick pleaded to that frightened the community between November and February.
“It didn’t matter where you where at what time of day, you weren’t safe,” Lasarow said.
“You had the opportunity to stop and realize what you did,” the judge added at one point.
Prosecutor Peter O’Hara spoke of friends who hid loaded firearms under counters to defend themselves against the masked robber.
“If a victim happens to be packing a (.45-caliber handgun) in his pocket, who knows who gets hurt,” O’Hara said.
Burdick’s story is one underscoring the pitfalls of drug addiction. Raised in Incline Village, he fell into trouble early, going to a juvenile bootcamp, charged with car burglary and ending up in Placer County Jail for 30 days.
In that time he discovered drugs. Part of his sentence in the car burglary case was to enter a rehabilitation program.
In March 2004 he moved to South Lake Tahoe and began working at the deli section of Safeway Food and Drug. Lonely and not feeling adequately supervised by Placer County’s probation department, he returned to drug use.
“This is not a young man who is new to the system,” O’Hara said.
Burdick did have an accomplice, William Weldy, who is out of custody and still going through the court process. It is unknown where the two met but the picture painted by family, friends and Public Defender Rick Meyer described Burdick as a promising, dependable youth.
Family friend Daryl Riersgard, a law enforcement officer in the Reno area, said Burdick “got bit by the drug demon” that takes “good people down.”
Burdick’s mom, Sandra, told the court her son once traveled to Mexico to help build houses and in one conversation from jail her son reminded her to take care of the family’s dog and cat. Sandra Burdick said her son is “not a throwaway kid” but a “young man who has gone astray but is not yet lost.”
Meyer was in a unique position in representing his client and knowing firsthand what a victim in a robbery feels like. In January 2004, Meyer and a clerk at Roadrunner Gas & Liquor in Meyers were the only two people in the store when masked gunmen robbed them of money.
The robbers turned out to be students at South Tahoe High School who also used a BB gun to fund a drug addiction.
“Cocaine is like Mike Tyson,” Meyer said. “If you put Mike Tyson in the ring with a 17-year-old, the 17-year-old doesn’t have a chance.”
One of the speakers brought in by the defense included a mother of one of the high school boys, who received sentences at a juvenile facility for their crimes.
“It’s unbelievable how fast it happened,” she said, adding “We didn’t see it coming.”
Meyer cited a robbery at Stateline when Burdick, masked and armed, approached a man who lost thousands of dollars in the casino gambling. The man refused to give any other money he may have had to Burdick who ended up fleeing the scene. There were no injuries in all of the robberies, a fact Meyer used when he asked the judge to look at the man “behind the mask.”
Meyer valiantly lobbied for a lenient sentence for Burdick, still shackled and wearing an orange jumpsuit after his Feb. 14 arrest.
In the end, the nature of the crimes and Burdick’s past brushes with the law were too much for the judge to ignore. If he gave Burdick the four years Meyer wanted, it would boil down to a term of six months in prison for each robbery, a sentence Lasarow envisioned would “outrage” the community.
Lasarow was impressed with the outpouring of support for Burdick and advised the 20-year-old to think of them every day while incarcerated. He told Burdick that rehabilitation “has to begin with you.”
Lasarow hoped Burdick’s case would serve as a cautionary tale to other youths on the dangers of drug abuse.
“Get the word out folks,” he said. “If you do drugs this is what happens.”
– E-mail William Ferchland at email@example.com
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