Sentencing rescheduled for robbery suspect

CLINTON — District Court Judge John Telleen continued to June 6 a sentencing hearing for a man who pleaded guilty to one count of second-degree robbery last month.

Telleen said that Antoine J. Allen, 45, filed a pro se motion in arrest of judgment and ordered the case continued to allow preparation of the plea transcript. Telleen granted an oral motion by attorney John Kies to withdraw. Attorney Neill Kroeger was appointed to represent Allen.

The new hearing is scheduled for 9:45 a.m. June 6.

Allen was originally charged with one count of first-degree robbery, a Class B felony, but last month pleaded guilty to one count of second-degree robbery, a Class B felony. In a plea, the parties agreed that the mandatory sentence would be five years under Iowa Code.

The plea agreement says that Allen was advised that the charge was a forcible felony and that he was not eligible for a suspended sentence or deferred judgment.

Last month Allen filed a motion to retract from plea agreement. The motion alleges that on or about March 26 Allen's attorney "badgered" him into signing a guilty plea regarding a Dollar General robbery.

Allen says in the motion that he did not knowingly, voluntarily or intentionally enter into any contractual agreement but signed the plea due to what was told to him by his trial attorney and the state prosecutor. Allen said the plea was signed due directly to duress, coercion, fear and threats and that the plea is an illegal contract and is void.

"The Defendant signed a plea under duress, coercion, fear and threats, and under no circumstances is this allowed under any law, nor under the U.S. or Iowa Constitution," Allen says in the motion. "It is therefore substantiated that such a plea is not a plea of contract of guilt at all."

Allen alleges that the State prosecutor's office has no physical evidence to support the crime and that the cashier working on the night the incident occurred said she was 80% sure the offender was number one in the photoshop; Allen was number five in the photoshop.

Allen's motion says a witness indicated that she did not remember seeing Allen in the store that night. The motion says that the lab discovered a partial print on the top of the cash register but the technician was unable to determine to whom the print belonged.

The State indicates that a print was found on the bottom of the drawer, but video surveillance taken from Dollar General does not show the suspect touching the bottom of the cash drawer, Allen says in his motion.

According to a court affidavit, at about 9:30 p.m. May 23, 2017, officers were sent to a robbery at Dollar General, 1528 Camanche Ave. Officers met with the store clerk, who told said someone entered the store and asked where to find baby diapers. The store clerk helped him find the diapers and went back to the register.

The man placed the diapers on the counter, and the clerk began to ring up the diapers. The man jumped around the counter, held her around the neck with a knife at her throat and demanded that she open the register, according to the affidavit.

The clerk opened the register, and the suspect grabbed the cash and fled, taking the diapers with him. The clerk said the suspect was a black man wearing all dark clothing, according to the affidavit.

An officer took the cash register drawer as evidence, and in November of 2017, the Division of Criminal Investigation Criminalistics Laboratory in Ankeny developed two latent prints for identification, the court affidavit says. The prints matched Allen's.