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April 26, 2013

Man takes plea in robbery gone wrong

30-year sentence expected by court officials

JEFFERSONVILLE —

A man involved in a 2011 Jeffersonville convenience store robbery that turned deadly accepted a plea deal in Clark County Circuit Court No. 4 Thursday

Nicholas Anthony LaCruze, 23, of Jeffersonville, could be sentenced to 30 years in prison, the advisory sentencing of a class A felony, following a sentencing hearing May 20.

LaCruze and Terry Wilson are believed to have attempted an armed robbery of a clerk at Q-Mark, located at Allison Lane and Middle Road, Nov. 17.

During the incident the clerk fatally shot Wilson. He was 21 years old when he was killed. LaCruze fled the scene and evaded Jeffersonville police for six days until he was located in a Clarksville home and placed under arrest.

While LaCruze did not kill Wilson, according to prosecutors, a person can also be held responsible if anyone dies during the commission of certain crimes.

Through the plea agreement, the murder charge was dropped, and LaCruze was convicted of A felony attempted robbery - resulting in serious bodily injury.

LaCruze was represented during the plea hearing by court-appointed attorney Christopher Sturgeon, of Jeffersonville. 

Clark County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Jeremy Mull represented the state, and Judge Vicki Carmichael presided over the hearing.

“The felony murder count was highly unusual in that [LaCruze] and his co-defendant robbed the store, and the store owner shot the co-defendant dead,” Mull said after the hearing.

Mull said he was satisfied with offering LaCruze a plea and having the confirmation of a long prison sentence.

“In this case, with the quality of evidence that I had, I was very comfortable that justice was served with a guaranteed 30-year sentence in prison,” Mull said. “I felt like the murder charge helped us to get to this point. He was not wanting to get convicted of that.”

Mull said he feels there is no doubt LaCruze is guilty of the charges, but with moving ahead to trial there is a chance he could have been acquitted.

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