By LeAnn R. Ralph
MENOMONIE — An 18-year-old Cadott man has pleaded guilty to the armed robbery of the I-94 Mart in the Town of Elk Mound.
Brandon L. Hurlburt, who was 17 at the time of the robbery in November of last year, entered his guilty plea as a party to a crime November 26 in Dunn County Circuit Court before the Honorable Judge Rod Smeltzer.
A jury trial had previously been scheduled for Hurlburt in December.
Hurlburt was charged with one Class C felony of armed robbery which carries a penalty of up to a $100,000 fine and/or up to 40 years in prison.
Two others also were charged with armed robbery in connection with the same incident: Christopher L. Bollom, 20, of Eau Claire, and Jordan R. Dickinson, 21, also of Eau Claire.
Dickinsen pleaded guilty in Dunn County Circuit Court November 12 to one Class C felony count of armed robbery. Three misdemeanor counts against Dickinsen for possession of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia and carrying a concealed weapon were dismissed.
Dickinsen currently is serving a two-year prison term in Green Bay for a series of thefts from vehicles and garages in Dunn, Chippewa and Eau Claire counties.
Hurlburt was arrested December 14 last year for a robbery earlier in the month at the G&64 Country Store in the Town of Ruby in Chippewa County.
Following a preliminary hearing November 16, Judge Smeltzer found probable cause in the Hurlburt case and scheduled an arraignment hearing for November 26, but was confident a plea deal could be reached between Dunn County Assistant District Attorney Andrew Maki and Hurlburt’s attorney, Harry Hertel.
During the November 26 court hearing, Judge Smeltzer accepted Hurlburt’s guilty plea and ordered a pre-sentence investigation.
Hurlburt has already been sentenced in the Chippewa County case and was placed on five years of probation, with the condition that one year be served in the county jail and that Huber privileges for work and school would be allowed after the first six months had been served.
Hertel asked Judge Smeltzer to modify the $10,000 cash bond in Dunn County to a signature bond so that Hurlburt would be eligible for Huber on December 6 after serving the first six months in jail in Chippewa County.
Huber privileges would allow Hurlburt an opportunity to go back to high school for his senior year and to find employment, Hertel told the court.
Assistant District Attorney Maki asked the court to delay modifying the bond until the sentencing hearing in Dunn County on February 8.
“I hope you are a different young man than when you walked into the jail in January of 2012,” Judge Smeltzer said to Hurlburt.
Judge Smeltzer ordered the $10,000 cash bond changed to a $20,000 signature bond.
The signature bond will allow Huber release for school and for work, he noted, adding that Hurlburt would be responsible for showing up for the sentencing hearing in Dunn County.
“What you do between now and when you come to see me again is really important,” Judge Smeltzer said.
Hurlburt told investigators that he and Bollom had burglarized a home in Chippewa County on November 2, 2011, and had taken a large container of coins. They went to Festival Foods in Eau Claire and met Dickinsen, cashed in the coins, went to a strip club in the Twin Cities, bought marijuana, and then traveled back to Menomonie in the early morning of November 3 and discussed committing an armed robbery.
According to a news release from the Dunn County Sheriff’s Department, on November 3, 2011, two men wearing ski masks entered the I-94 Mart at the intersection of Interstate 94 and state Highway 29 at 6:39 a.m. One of the suspects was armed with a handgun and an undisclosed amount of money was taken.
Bollom is scheduled for a jury trial in Dunn County January 24 and 25.
A sentencing hearing for Dickinsen is scheduled in Dunn County Circuit Court on January 11.