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Archive for Thursday, October 3, 1996

MAN PLEADS GUILTY TO ROBBERY, ESCAPE CHARGES

October 3, 1996

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A man who robbed a Lawrence grocery store and escaped from a Douglas County Sheriff's officer pleaded guilty on Wednesday to both crimes.

Flanked by two Douglas County Sheriff's officers and with two more at the courtroom door, a handcuffed Chad Beers pleaded guilty on Wednesday to felony charges filed against him three years ago.

Beers, 26, pleaded guilty to the armed robbery of a Lawrence grocery store and to his escape from custody shortly after his arrest for the robbery, in October 1993.

It was the first of three jailbreaks by Beers, the other two occurred in 1994 and 1995 in Arkansas.

Two other charges -- felony theft and obstructing legal duty -- were dropped in a plea agreement.

Beers faces a maximum sentence of more than 10 years in state prison. Judge Michael Malone scheduled sentencing for 2:30 p.m. Oct. 25.

Before Wednesday's proceedings began, Beers complained that he should not be kept in handcuffs while in court, and asked to have them removed.

"This is crazy," he said to Randy McGrath, his attorney.

McGrath informed him the law regarding handcuffs in the courtroom applies only when a jury is present.

He tugged at his cuffs to no avail.

"Didn't bring no bolt cutters or nothin', did you?" Beers joked to two female acquaintances near the back of the courtroom.

After court convened, Beers admitted using a knife to threaten an employee of Checkers Foods, 2300 La., and stealing cash and checks from a store safe.

"I showed her a knife and said this was a robbery," Beers said. "I told her to stay out of the way."

He also admitted to escaping from a Douglas County jailer in October 1993 before he could face a preliminary hearing for the armed robbery.

"We were walking toward the car coming back (from a medical examination) ... I just took off running," Beers said.

The maximum sentence for armed robbery, given Beers' criminal history, is eight years and seven months.

For the escape, Beers could be sentenced to 23 months.

Prosecutors recommended that the sentences be served at the same time he serves sentences in both Nebraska and Arkansas. Judge Malone has the authority to forego that recommendation at sentencing.

Currently in Douglas County Jail, Beers had to be transported in August to Lawrence from Nebraska, where he is serving a 10-year sentence for crimes committed during his second run from the law.

Beers has also been sentenced in Arkansas to a minimum of 14 years in prison for a 1993 kidnapping that occurred before he was arrested in Lawrence.

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