May 25—A 20-year-old man facing robbery charges from a shoplifting incident a year ago in Joplin was granted a suspended imposition of sentence and probation when he pleaded guilty to a reduced charge Monday in Jasper County Circuit Court.
Andrew M. Widener, of Joplin, changed his plea to guilty on an amended count of felony stealing in a plea deal allowing the suspended imposition of sentence, and Circuit Judge David Mouton placed the defendant on probation for five years with a requirement that he pay $938.84 in restitution to Dunham's Sports.
Widener had been facing charges of first-degree robbery and armed criminal action in a shoplifting incident May 30 of last year at the sporting goods store in Northpark Mall.
A probable-cause affidavit alleged that Widener entered the store with three women, all of whom began gathering items to shoplift. The defendant began stuffing shirts and a hooded sweatshirt in a backpack he grabbed in the store before topping his intended haul off with a baseball bat and a crossbow and heading out a door with his companions.
Store employees tried to stop all four and got into a physical altercation with one of the women, Jenae Lewis, 24, of Joplin, who also was armed with a bat she had stolen, while Widener threatened to strike the employees with the bat he was wielding.
The affidavit alleged that he also threatened to blow up the store in the course of the altercation, which ended when the four got into a vehicle and fled the parking lot.
Lewis pleaded guilty Monday to a reduced charge of second-degree assault and was granted probation.
Jeff Lehr is a reporter for The Joplin Globe.