Although the proceedings were delayed slightly because of a backlog of cases, Brandon Pierce, 17, Brazil, and his attorney James Organ appeared before Judge Joseph Trout with a new negotiated plea agreement Wednesday.
According to court documentation, Pierce, the alleged suspect in the armed robbery of the Brazil Taco Bell in May, was originally charged as an adult on charges of a B felony armed robbery charge, D felony theft charge and a class A misdemeanor criminal trespass.
Because investigators were unable to prove the alleged weapon was actually used or during the May incident or locate one, the Clay County Prosecutor's Office negotiated an agreement with Pierce that would allow him to plead guilty to a lesser charge of C felony robbery. If accepted by the court, the remaining charges in the case would be dropped by the state.
On Nov. 12, Trout rejected a prior plea agreement in the case with a similar stipulation, but it had different sentencing requirements.
The original agreement was for Pierce to be sentenced with 5 years with all suspended with the exception of 2 years to be served with good time credit (if earned), credit for time previously served and 3 years probation. The new agreement has Pierce sentenced to 8 years with 4 years to be served and 4 years of probation upon his release.
While on probation, Pierce would have to obey all laws and pay court and court appointed program fees, make restitution but make no contact with the victims and fully cooperate with the prosecution and testify truthfully in further court proceedings. He also agreed to be subject to random drug screenings, waive constitutional rights for searches of his person, residence or vehicle and provide a DNA sample to authorities.
The agreement also stated if Pierce violated these terms in any way, there was the potential for him being returned to the IDOC to serve the remainder of his sentence.
After accepting the agreement, Trout told The Brazil Times he felt this was more in line with the State of Indiana's advisory sentencing recommendation for a class C felony charge (which is 2-8 years with an advisement of 4 years imprisonment).
Pierce was returned to the Clay County Justice Center pending processing to leave for the IDOC.
The alleged suspect in the Poland First Financial Bank robbery also appeared in Clay Circuit Court Wednesday with a request for a continuance in the case.
On Nov. 3, Trout rejected a preliminary plea agreement with the Clay County Prosecutor's Office and Vance Smith.
According to court documentation, Smith, 38, Plainfield, was formally charged with a class C felony robbery charge, a class C felony operating a vehicle after forfeiture of license for life and an additional filing of the habitual offender charge for his alleged involvement in the Nov. 23, 2007, bank robbery.
Smith is also a suspect in a separate bank robbery in Darlington, Ind., on Oct. 31, 2007.
Trout accepted the request and scheduled Smith's next formal court appearance for Dec. 22.
Smith was returned to the Clay County Justice Center to await further court proceedings.