Kwik Trip robbery defendant changes plea

Published 11:06 am Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Twenty-four-year-old Pouch Phillip Ruach withdrew his guilty plea in Freeborn County District Court Monday for first-degree aggravated robbery charges related to an alleged armed robbery of the West Front Street Kwik Trip in August.

The withdrawal of the plea came after Judge John A. Chesterman indicated that if he were to sentence Ruach that day, he would sentence him to 68 months in prison. He said he couldn’t make any findings that Ruach would be amenable to probation.

In September, Ruach had entered a not guilty plea to the charges, but he amended that to guilty in November for the reason of entering into a plea agreement.

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According to court documents, the alleged robbery took place the morning of Aug. 21. Police found Ruach on Lincoln Avenue just south of the Front Street intersection.

Reports indicated officers smelled a strong odor of alcohol on his breath, and after searching Ruach’s pockets, they found a Kwik Trip sack containing coins and other money totaling about $326. Also in the bag were two small cash register receipts with the heading “Safe Drop” and store No. 804, which is the Front Street Kwik Trip store number.

Officers later found the knife believed to have been used in the robbery at the intersection of Front Street and First Avenue, documents state.

During later discussion with a Kwik Trip clerk who was at the station during the incident, the clerk told a police detective that the man who robbed the store pulled the knife out of his pocket and had it in his right hand and later in his left hand. He kept saying “Gimme it all,” according to court documents.

Ruach was later identified in both a photo lineup and in the video from the Kwik Trip store, reports stated.

Chesterman said the victim in the incident, who originally indicated she agreed with the plea agreement, recently decided she did not agree. The judge said it was his inclination to not accept the plea and to commit Ruach to prison.

Freeborn County prosecutor David Walker said Ruach has a criminal history that is not optimistic about how well he’d do on probation.

Ruach’s lawyer, Stephen Erickson, said he still recommended probation and chemical dependency counseling, and maybe even a halfway house. If probation failed, only then Ruach could potentially face prison time.

Ruach has been in the Freeborn County jail since the August incident.

After hearing Chesterman’s comments about his decision that day, however, Erickson and Ruach indicated they would like to withdraw the plea and demanded a speedy trial.