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Armed robbery charge moves to district courtTell North Platte what you think
 
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Sylvester D. LeBlanc

Sylvester LeBlanc, 19, will face charges in Lincoln County District Court for robbery and using a weapon to commit a felony.

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LeBlanc allegedly robbed Bethany Vencil of North Platte on Feb. 11 of $34 cash and her cell phone at her home in the Kings Court Trailer Park.

Co-thief Jeffery Denson was arrested a short time later, but LeBlanc went on the run for 10 days. He was found at his motherís home in Lincoln by the Metro Fugitive Task Force. He was held at the Lancaster County Jail and while there, he faced a separate charge of attempted possession of marijuana with intent to deliver. He was convicted of that crime and sentenced on Aug. 29 in Lancaster District Court to 1-2 years in the state pen.

On Nov, 24, LeBlanc was brought to Lincoln County to face charges for the robbery. He appeared in county court Thursday for a contested preliminary hearing.

North Platte Police Officer Adam Miller and Investigator Roger Freeze took the stand to testify.

Under questioning by Chief Deputy County Attorney Tanya Roberts-Connick, Miller said Vencil originally only told police that LeBlanc and Denson came to her home asking to use the bathroom and she let them in. She said that LeBlanc brandished a handgun and demanded money.

But in court, Freeze said that Vencilís friend Alex Berndt was also there when Denson and LeBlanc arrived.

Freeze said Vencil told investigators that Denson went to the bathroom and shortly after called LeBlanc in. When LeBlanc came out, he pulled the gun and ordered Vencil and Berndt into the bathroom. In the process, he hit Berndt on the head with the gun.

Vencil said she did not initially report that Berndt was at her home because he wanted nothing to do with it all, so she covered for him, according to police testimony. Vencil later told police that Berndt was there to fill in the story and help ensure that LeBlanc would not get away with it.

Freeze testified that Vencil told him when she went in the bathroom, LeBlanc told her they were going to rob her because they had a friend in jail who needed money. She gave them $34 and told them to give her phone back and get out.

LeBlancís defense attorney Robert Lindemeier said that the whole thing started out to be that Vencilís boyfriend, Garrett Gray, was going to front some pot to LeBlanc, who actually planned to steal all of Gray's pot. But that didnít happen because Gray was not home at the time.

Lindemeier said that Vencil said that Denson had tried to get the gun away from LeBlanc.

Lindemeier raised questions about the whole story, including the gun, which has never been found. He asked Freeze if officers found any evidence of it where Denson allegedly buried it. Freeze said no, that police searched the area twice, without success.

Lindemeier also said Vencil told investigators that LeBlanc tried to shoot the ceiling, but the gun didnít fire and LeBlanc ďrackedĒ the gun (operated the slide to load a round).

Lindemeier said the gun was critical evidence, and since it couldnít be found, he moved to dismiss the charge based on lack of evidence.

Lincoln County Judge Michael Piccolo was not persuaded. He bound the case over to district court, where LeBlanc will be tried on the charges.

Meanwhile, LeBlanc is in the county jail. He is held on a $500,000 bond, which is moot, because if he would bond out of the Lincoln County Jail, he would go back to the pen.

For his part, Denson was convicted of robbery and distribution of marijuana on Oct. 7 and sentenced to a year in jail.

The distribution charge was pressed because Denson smuggled pot into the jail in his butt and shared it with other prisoners.


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The North Platte Bulletin - Published 12/15/2013
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