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Man sentenced to 10 years in prison for Southeast Missouri pharmacy robbery
VAN BUREN, Mo. -- A Columbia, Mo.-area man was sentenced to 10 years in prison Tuesday morning for his role in the February 2008 armed robbery of a Van Buren pharmacy.
Presiding Circuit Judge Mark Richardson followed Carter County Prosecuting Attorney Ernie Richardson's recommendation in sentencing Richard Dale Branson, 25, of Auxvasse to 10 years in the Missouri Department of Corrections.
Ernie Richardson said Branson pleaded guilty earlier in the month to the Class A felony of first-degree pharmacy robbery, "but the judge delayed sentencing" until Tuesday.
As part of plea negotiations, Ernie Richardson said, he dismissed the unclassified felony of armed criminal action and the Class C felony of possession of a controlled substance Branson also had been facing in connection with the Feb. 5, 2008, robbery.
Unrelated misdemeanor charges of possession of marijuana and unlawful use of drug paraphernalia also were dismissed by the state.
"(Branson) did plead guilty to pharmacy robbery, which is a little tougher than the normal robbery statute," Ernie Richardson explained. "The sentencing statute on pharmacy robbery carries 10 to 30 years (in prison), which is the same as the normal robbery statute, but the defendant has to serve at least 10 years. He will serve every day of the 10 years."
Branson's codefendant, Tyler Ray Scott Hayward, 25, of Columbia, was sentenced in November to 10 years in prison.
At that time, an unclassified felony of armed criminal action and the Class C felony of possession of a controlled substance Hayward was facing were dismissed by the state.
"These are two young boys; one had a completely clean record (while) the other had a misdemeanor marijuana (conviction) on his record," Ernie Richardson explained. "They are first-time (felony) offenders.
" ... Ten years, without parole, is a stiff sentence. Had they had a record ... they would have been dealt with a little more stiffly."
The charges stem from a robbery, which was reported at about 2:15 p.m. Feb. 5, 2008, to the Carter County Sheriff's Department.
Hayward and Branson allegedly displayed a knife and gun during the robbery and stole OxyContin and Xanax before fleeing.
Ellington Police Chief Stan Qualls subsequently stopped a vehicle "leaving the general area," which was "consistent with the suspect vehicle ... a dark blue (sport utility vehicle)," Missouri State Highway Patrol Cpl. Casey Jadwin said in his probable cause affidavit.
Branson and Hayward, Jadwin said, were held for questioning.
After Branson was told of his rights, Jadwin said, Branson "confessed that he and Hayward were the two subjects that robbed the Van Buren drug store.
"Branson confessed that he flourished a pellet gun and Hayward flourished a large hunting knife to threaten employees to give them OxyContin and Xanax."
Branson, according to earlier reports, allegedly put the gun to the head of an employee, while Hayward held the knife to another employee's throat.
Branson, Jadwin said, reported he and Hayward "planned to sell the stolen drugs to obtain a large amount of cash money."
Jadwin said Branson gave officers permission to search his vehicle, a 2001 Ford Explorer.
"I seized a large pellet gun, mocking a long-barrel revolver, and a large hunting knife, both consistent with statements given by eye witnesses; clothing consistent with the description given to me by eyewitnesses; 15 total bottles of Xanax and OxyContin, consistent with what was reported to be stolen from the Van Buren drug store; a misdemeanor amount of green plant material, believed to be marijuana, and misdemeanor drug paraphernalia (smoking devices and rolling papers)," Jadwin explained.
Pharmacy employees reported the drugs stolen during the robbery, "at their cost, were worth approximately $4,000," Jadwin said.