Three cases in district court

Probation for Maverik robber, Mental Health Court ordered

Richard Frank Stepanek was positively identified from a security camera recording of his armed robbery of the new Maverik gas station and convenience store at the corner of Haskell and Hansen Streets. Stepanek demanded money from the clerk at knife-point. He stole some money, chewing tobacco and beer.

The 69 year-old pleaded guilty to felony robbery and received his third felony conviction. There were many lesser charges and convictions over a long criminal history going back to the 1980’s. His public defender said each of those crimes was committed while under the influence of alcohol. 

Stepanek has lung cancer, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), prostate problems, a catheter, mental health issues and memory problems. He claimed to have been sober for about 10 years before the two-day drinking binge that he said led to the robbery.

Stepanek said he was sorry to everyone who’d been affected by what he did, especially to the clerk he threatened that night. “I did say a couple of times that I wasn’t going to hurt her,” he told the judge.

Stepanek lives with a 73 year-old ex-wife who he called his “soul mate and best friend.” He asked to be allowed probation so he could take care of her, as she has symptoms of dementia.

“I want to start acting like a 69 year-old man, I’m very ashamed of myself,” he told the judge. 

Judge Michael Montero noted that the clerk who was threatened by Stepanek during the robbery had not come to court to make a victim impact statement. “I’d like to have heard from her as to how this impacted her,” he said.

Although he pronounced Stepanek guilty of the category D felony and sentenced him to 36-96 months in prison, the judge decided to suspend the sentence and instead put Stepanek on probation. 

“I’m not going to put you in prison today but there have to be adequate safeguards in place for our community,” Montero said, adding that he felt the community would actually be better protected by probation supervision than by putting Stepanek in prison.

The judge said he would leave it up to the Department of Parole and Probation whether to put Stepanek into a long-term alcohol treatment program. He ordered Stepanek to successfully complete one year in Sixth Judicial District Mental Health Court, where he will be closely supervised, drug and alcohol tested and required to attend counseling and self-help meetings. Montero said Stepanek’s bipolar disorder had gone untreated for many years. 

When Stepanek said “thank you,” Montero answered, “Don’t thank me. Prove to me you can do this.”

Stepanek received credit for the 176 days he has spent in jail since the offense.

Craigen Yeo probation reinstated

Craigen Yeo had only been on probation a relatively short time when he was back in court on violations that included being intoxicated, possession of a weapon and failing to pay the fines and fees ordered by the court. He also had failed to get a court-ordered evaluation.

Yeo will get one more chance to do better on supervision and get his substance abuse evaluation within 30 days. 

William Ray Heaslett probation revoked

William Ray Heaslett was in district court on numerous probation violations including getting thrown out of drug court for absconding, using controlled substances, failing to report to parole and probation as required and not paying the fines and fees imposed by the court as well as those owed for drug court and supervision.

Heaslett admitted all the violations, saying all his issues were because of drug addiction for a decade or more. His lawyer noted he wasn’t even able to get a driver’s license until after he had entered drug court and done well for awhile.

“This was the longest I’d been sober since I was 14,” Heaslett told the judge. “I liked working the program. I just had a couple of setbacks, a bad day. My RV burnt down, so I went out and got drunk.”

Judge Montero pointed out this was the second time Heaslett had taken off. He noted the recommendation from the Department of Parole and Probation was to send him to prison for four years. “You’ve been to prison already,” Montero mused, adding, “I sent you there.” 

Montero considered sending Heaslett to boot camp, but the 41 year-old said he had arthritis in his back and couldn’t do it. After more discussion, Heaslett’s probation was rescinded and he was sent to prison to carry out his sentence of 19-48 months with credit for 41 days already served.