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Fort Leonard Wood man pleads guilty to three robberies while AWOL
Fort Leonard Wood man pleads guilty to three robberies while AWOL

Paul A. Cary
SAINT ROBERT, Mo. (March 5, 2010) — A former soldier from Fort Leonard Wood pleaded guilty Thursday to three counts of second-degree robbery involving incidents last June at the Holiday Inn Express, Microtel and Discount Smoke Shop.

Spec. Paul August Cary, 33, had been absent without leave from Fort Leonard Wood’s 5th Engineer Battalion when, according to probable cause statements filed by St. Robert police, he robbed the Microtel Inn and Holiday Inn Express in broad daylight on June 6 and 7, following an evening robbery of Discount Smoke Shop on June 4.

He didn’t receive much money from any of the three robberies: about $600 from Discount Smoke Shop, $341 from Microtel and $135 from Holiday Inn. During each of the incidents, he had a bag over his hand and in at least one of the incidents claimed to be carrying a gun.

Court documents say he admitted to all three robberies to St. Robert police “along with an attempted robbery of the Price Cutters in Waynesville.” He was also seen on various security videos that allowed a member of the Fort Leonard Wood Drug Suppression Team to “positively identif(y) the subject as Paul August Carey due to having interviewed him several times for crimes that he has committed on Fort Leonard Wood.”

The three cases had been moved to Phelps County Circuit Court on a change-of-venue request on Oct. 23 and had been scheduled by Associate Circuit Judge John Clayton, who normally serves in Maries County, for a two-day jury trial beginning next week Thursday, March 11 in Phelps County Circuit Court.

Prosecuting Attorney Deborah Hooper had followed requests by police to charge Cary with first-degree robbery, which is a Class A felony, carrying a penalty of 10 to 30 years in state prison. As part of the plea bargain, Hooper accepted Cary’s plea to the lesser offense of second-degree robbery, which is a Class B felony punishable by 5 to 15 years.

Clayton is scheduled to sentence Cary on May 10.

The case was originally scheduled to be heard by Circuit Judge Mary Sheffield but Cary’s public defender objected to Sheffield on July 17, Sheffield sent the case to the Missouri Supreme Court on Aug. 17, and Clayton was assigned on Sept. 21, along with the transfer to Phelps County.

It’s not clear from court documents when the Waynesville incident happened at Price Cutters, but according to the police report submitted in the Microtel case, “all of the robberies are consistent with the same actions” and “all of the clerks feared that Mr. Cary was concealing a handgun in the bag when he was demanding their money.”

Police said those actions, in the Microtel case, involved Cary confronting the motel manager with a Wendy’s restaurant bag covering his hand and demanding all the money in the cash drawer. While no gun was shown during the robberies, the manager feared for her safety because he pointed a bag in her direction, swore at her, and demanded the money.

Several of the businesses have security cameras that obtained good-quality photos of Cary that robbery victims and Fort Leonard Wood personnel were able to use to identify him, police said.

While Cary is assigned to on-post housing, he wasn’t found there. According to St. Robert police, following an intensive search, Cary was located at a home in the Laquey area and taken into custody there without incident.

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