A Ramsey County judge ignored the objections of the prosecutor as well the pleas of the victim, who said she was terrorized with fear during a spring robbery at gunpoint aboard a Metro Transit Green Line light rail train, according to a report on the perpetrator’s sentencing.
During Tuesday’s sentencing of Bobby Neal Cole, Jr., Judge George Stephenson said that public safety would be better served if Cole, 23, spent a year in the workhouse, received drug treatment and was monitored on probation instead of being sent to prison, according to a Star Tribune report.
The light sentence comes amid recent reports of an increase in robberies and assaults at light rail train (LRT) stations this year. One report said that the most serious violent crimes along the LRT system are up 35 percent compared to last year. Alpha news has reported on several LRT related crime incidents in the past months including a brazen daylight attack on a man in a wheelchair, as well as the St. Paul Police Department’s documentation of the LRT abetting crime across the metro.
Cole, who admitted to robbing the woman and pleaded guilty to one count of aiding and abetting first-degree aggravated robbery in connection with the incident, had his 81-month prison sentence stayed. Under the terms of a plea agreement, two other felony charges of prohibited person in possession of a firearm or ammunition were also dismissed at sentencing.
Cole’s accomplice in the incident, Jaymon Jarel Burton, 22, reportedly grabbed items from the woman as Cole held a gun to her. The incident was captured on surveillance video.
The victim, in a written statement imploring the judge for a prison sentence said, “I just want to put my mind at ease and travel without looking over my shoulder,” and said that she felt “complete fear” during the crime. Assistant County Attorney Cory Tennison said before the judge issued the sentence that “[r]obbing someone with a gun should be prison,” and referred to St. Paul’s recent spate of gun crimes.
Under Minnesota statute, convicted parties are only required to serve two-thirds of their sentence incarcerated and the remainder on supervised release. With credit for 170 days already served, Cole is expected to serve a remaining 73 days in the Ramsey County Adult Correctional Facility and is scheduled for release on Jan. 24, 2020.
Cole was convicted in 2018 in Anoka County on one felony count of threats of violence making him ineligible to possess firearms or ammunition, and still faces a probation violation warrant in that county in that case. Burton pleaded guilty to robbery and is expected to be sentenced in December.
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