Teen robber had cocaine habit | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Teen robber had cocaine habit

William Ferchland

A teenager accused of robbing South Lake Tahoe convenience stores to fund a cocaine habit admitted to his six charges to avoid an upcoming trial.

The 17-year-old, whose name is being withheld because of his age, appeared in El Dorado County Superior Court on Monday. His wrists and ankles were bound by shackles.

The six felony charges included three counts of robbery with a dangerous or deadly weapon. Three other robbery charges were lowered to grand theft.

The three robbery counts are considered as strikes under California’s Three Strikes Law. If he was convicted of another felony, the teenager could face 25 years to life in prison.

The teenager’s record was clear of serious offenses before his arrest two months ago. A pellet handgun was used in the crime spree.

Robberies at the Roadrunner Gas & Liquor, the Liquor Shack and the Swiss Mart were included in the counts.

The 17-year-old could remain in custody until he’s 21 or 25 if special circumstances were met.

Visiting Judge James Dawson ordered a psychiatric report for the teenager. The reports are rare for juvenile court but Dawson wanted insight on the teenager’s substance abuse problems.

Defense attorney Paul Palant said his client was recognized for behaving well in Placerville’s juvenile hall by being placed on “honor status.”

Palant said the teenager was an honor roll student who fell victim to the expensive drug.

“This is what happens when you get addicted to cocaine,” Palant said.

The teenager plus two other juveniles were arrested in February. One is out of custody due to his lesser role while the other remains in juvenile hall. Each is represented by a different attorney.

If a deal isn’t reached by both sides in the other two cases, the teens will appear for trial May 5.

Sentencing for Palant’s client was scheduled for the morning of May 24. Besides further time in custody, the teenager could be ordered to reimburse the stores and other victims.

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