A judge sentenced Joseph Sutter of Colgate to six years in prison and five years of extended supervision in Washington County Circuit Court Wednesday for robbing the Lake Five Mobil gas station in Richfield with an airsoft gun. At about 8 p.m. on March 8 the Sheriff’s Department was notified of an armed robbery at the station, according to the criminal complaint. The caller said she was working and a man, later identified as Sutter, came into the store wearing a mask. He had a gun, later determined to be an air soft gun, and asked her to open the drawer.
Sutter, 22, was charged with armed robbery, felony bail jumping and possession of drug paraphernalia. During a plea hearing in April Sutter pleaded guilty to armed robbery and Washington County Circuit Judge James Muehlbauer dismissed, but read the remaining charges into the record.
He appeared in custody before Muehlbauer with his attorney Scott Wales for sentencing.
Wales asked Muehlbauer to consider sentencing Sutter to about three years in prison and four years of extended supervision.
“In the last six years it’s astounding, at least in my experience, the cases where clients have drug issues with marijuana, prescription drugs and heroin,” Wales said. “Here I represent a young man who seemingly grew up in an appropriate environment. When they get introduced to heroin the power of the drug on one’s behavior is beyond words. Good people end up doing horrific things.”
Wales said if Sutter doesn’t make changes in his life, there’s no sentence in the world that will have an effect on him.
Assistant District Attorney Peter Cannon recommended Sutter serve three to five years in prison and four years of extended supervision. “Obviously this is a very serious offense,” Cannon said. “The court has seen these types of cases before. Heroin is powerful.” Cannon said Sutter’s criminal record isn’t horrible and he comes from a solid family.
“He’s young,” Muehlbauer said. “Seemingly his parents were blindsided by this heroin addiction.” Muehlbauer said the case is troubling because the victim was a 74-year-old woman.
“She was pretty spunky that day, but since she’s had serious problems,” Muehlbauer said, adding the victim has fears and nightmares.
The gas station has had trouble getting employees since this occurred, Muehlbauer said, adding the owner’s son, who works at the gas station, has increased security measures. “The effects are not short-term for anybody and there are long-term effects on the community. I am glad we don’t have too many armed robberies in the county,” Muehlbauer said.
When Muehlbauer talked about Sutter’s character he revealed that Sutter took advantage of a former employer, he tried to get illegal drugs in jail and while he was at Genesis Behavioral Services he used his 7-year-old niece’s urine to beat a drug test.
“To steal from everyone. To commit an armed robbery. To beat a drug test,” Muehlbauer said. “There isn’t much good here other than you’re young and you have potential.”