A Kenai judge set bail Tuesday for two men implicated in the April armed robbery of Nikiski's 4-Lands Bar and Liquor Store.
Gordon Stanley and Joshua Pepper were indicted last Friday on charges of first-degree robbery, first-degree conspiracy to commit robbery, and third-degree assault. Stanley faces an additional charge of misconduct involving weapons in the second degree.
Stanley, 25, and Pepper, 25, pleaded not guilty to all counts. The two men were arrested earlier this month for their alleged involvement in the robbery of the 4-Lands Bar, where a masked shotgun-toting gunman discharged a round into the ceiling before making off with $307 from the register.
The state contends Stanley is the one who entered the bar with the shotgun, while Pepper "masterminded" the robbery, scoping out the bar before the incident and dropping Stanley off at the scene.
Judge Carl Bauman set Stanley's bail at $49,000 and a court-approved third-party custodian during his superior court arraignment Tuesday afternoon.
Kelly Lawson, who was present for the state, cited Stanley's prior convictions of failure to appear, theft, and leaving the scene of an accident -- among others -- as reasons for requesting $50,000 bail, saying that the state "certainly considers him a danger."
Chrystal Schoenrock, the owner of the 4-Lands Bar who was present at the time of the robbery, attended the hearing and chose to address the court when invited to do so.
"I never thought you'd do that to me," Schoenrock said, addressing Stanley, who sat clad in his yellow prison uniform, handcuffed and chained to the other alleged offenders present for their own hearings.
"I don't think they should be able to get out on bail," she told the court. "I'm sorry. They could've killed somebody."
Stanley is represented by Andrew Haas of the Homer-based Haas & Spigelmyer Law Offices.
Pepper was also arraigned in front of Bauman on Tuesday, but had a separate bail review hearing later in the day, at which time both the prosecution and the defense questioned a potential third-party custodian for Pepper.
The defense proposed Rita Lindsey of Nikiski as an appropriate custodian for Pepper. Lindsey said she is a personal care assistant who cares for two clients, and has known Pepper for about six months. She also said that if the court approved her, she would take Pepper to work with her. This matter became complicated when Lindsey revealed one of her clients -- who was present during the hearing -- is also her boyfriend and a convicted felon on probation.
The issue was eventually resolved when the court determined the arrangement would not legally jeopardize either Lindsey's boyfriend/client or Pepper.
"He's always been very nice," Lindsey said of Pepper. "I don't think he should be here. I think he got messed up with the wrong people."
To make sure Lindsey was aware of the situation, Lawson read aloud Pepper's prior convictions, which include multiple drug charges, theft, reckless driving, and failure to appear.
"People do make mistakes in their past," Lindsey countered, "and I'm just the type to give a person a second chance. And I think he deserves it."
Lindsey consistently stated that she "just doesn't believe" Pepper committed any of the offenses he is charged with.
Lawson ultimately opposed Lindsey as an acceptable third-party for multiple reasons, stating she was "concerned about her (Lindsey's) credibility altogether."
Pepper's attorney James Crowson said he found Lindsey to be very "candid" and "open" during her testimony, and pointed to the fact that she had been approved as a custodian in the past as a testament to her credibility and reliability.
Crowson requested Pepper be released on his own recognizance, while Lawson charged that he was the "mastermind" behind the robbery and should face a high bail.
Bauman ultimately set Pepper's bail at $19,000 and approved Lindsey as Pepper's third-party custodian.
The bail conditions for both men include no contact with one another and no contact with the four victims in the case.
Trial is scheduled for the week of Aug. 15 for both Stanley and Pepper.
Karen Garcia can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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