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AWOL 5th Engineer soldier gets 10 years for three off-post robberies
AWOL 5th Engineer soldier gets 10 years for three off-post robberies

Paul A. Cary
FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. (May 28, 2010) — An AWOL soldier from Fort Leonard Wood’s 5th Engineer Battalion will spend the next 10 years in the Missouri state prison system after pleading guilty to reduced charges in three off-post burglary cases from last year.

Paul A. Cary, 33, pleaded guilty on March 4 in Phelps County after his public defender requested on Oct. 23 that the case be moved out of Pulaski County due to pretrial publicity. Cary was sentenced Thursday by Associate Circuit Judge John Clayton, who usually serves in Maries County, to three concurrent terms of 10 years in the Missouri Department of Corrections on separate Class B felony charges of second-degree robbery. He was also ordered to pay $568 in public defender and court costs for each case.

The cases had been set for a two-day jury trial beginning March 11, but at a March 4 pretrial hearing, the plea agreement was worked out with Pulaski County Prosecutor Deborah Hooper in which he pleaded guilty to three Class B felony charges.

The original charges filed in June 2009 were Class A felony charges of first-degree robbery accusing him of forcibly stealing currency from two different businesses, the Holiday Inn Express and Discount Smoke Shop of St. Robert, on June 4 and June 7, while threatening the use of what appeared to be a deadly weapon. An additional charge was later filed in the robbery of Microtel.

Online court records state that the charges originated with the Waynesville Police Department. That’s an apparent error since the businesses involved are in St. Robert rather than Waynesville.

Cary 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.”

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.

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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