A 26-year-old Nikiski resident was sentenced at the Kenai Courthouse on Thursday to 10 years with six suspended for second-degree robbery. He will serve four years in prison.
Gordon Stanley pleaded guilty to the charge after a Nov. 21, 2011 change of plea hearing. His original charges were two counts of first-degree robbery, four counts of third-degree assault and firing a gun at a building.
Defense attorney Richard Payne attended his client’s sentencing telephonically. He expressed Stanley’s desire to accept responsibility for his actions throughout the hearing.
Authorities arrested two men in connection with a robbery at 4-Lands Bar and Liquor Store in May. The other defendant in the case, Joshua Pepper, 27, was sentenced at an earlier date to five years with two suspended for second-degree conspiracy to commit robbery.
According to court records, Stanley entered the bar while Pepper knowingly brought him there.
The incident involved a masked, shotgun toting Stanley who entered the bar and demanded money from the bartender. When a patron asked if he was joking, he became irate, pumped the shotgun, and fired a round into the ceiling. Stanley snatched up $307 from the bar counter and fled the scene on foot.
Stanley walked into the courtroom and took the seat nearest to the witness stand, staring directly forward for the majority of the sentencing.
“It was very scary for the victims,” said Amy Fenske, assistant district attorney. “He should receive some credit for wanting to take responsibility.”
But Stanley is expected to adhere to his numerous probation conditions, or he’ll serve the six suspended years, she said.
Chrystal Schoenrock, owner of 4-Lands Bar, shared a brief comment with the court.
“You really could’ve hurt somebody, or killed them,” she said. “That’s no way to act. It could have taken a turn for the worse.”
Payne thanked the bar owner for sharing her thoughts. He also noted the importance for his client to feel remorse, but added Stanley had a rough childhood, which included substance abuse starting at 12.
“It paints a picture of someone who had a harder life,” Payne said. “I hope he seeks real help for lasting change.”
Payne said Stanley possibly conspired the robbery with Pepper because the two owed money to some “very bad people.”
Stanley sat listening with a furrowed brow then offered his own apology to Schoenrock.
“To say I’m sorry, those are just words,” he said. “I need to show you my remorse, and I will… By never doing this again and making something of myself.”
Kenai Superior Court Judge Carl Bauman said Stanley’s criminal history was more troubling than Payne admitted. Previous brushes with crime included third-degree theft, multiple charges involving controlled substances and providing false information to law enforcement.
The judge accepted the sentence and imposed mandatory substance abuse treatment, recommending Stanley consider incarceration at an out-of-state facility with an intensive in-patient program.
“I get a lot of people in court with bad childhoods,” Bauman said, “but it’s time to set that aside and become a responsible adult.”
He also said he believed the strong community disapproval of Stanley’s actions was an appropriate deterrent.
“It makes people nervous, much like having a drug dealer over your shoulder,” Bauman said alluding to the “very bad people.”
The judge imposed two years of probation. Stanley was ordered to consume no alcohol, to actively seek employment and to not contact his victims after release from prison.
Schoenrock said after the sentencing she would most likely not seek restitution.
“He might actually change, and I’m hoping that he will,” she said. “He’s only 26, and he screwed up his life.”
Jerzy Shedlock can be reached at email@example.com.