By Michael R. Moser
The first of three defendants in last year's armed robbery of the Peavine Rd. Taco Bell restaurant pleaded guilty in Cumberland County Criminal Court Monday, setting the stage for his potential appearance to testify against his co-defendants.
Ernest Otto Ketelhut, 23, who listed a Goshen, IN, address at the time of his arrest, was indicted on a charge of aggravated robbery and felony evading arrest in connection with the June 2012 robbery of an assistant manager.
Also charged was then-employee Andrea Augusti, 25, of Avon Rd., and Robert Jay Gilleand, 24, of the same address.
A restaurant assistant manager was walking across the parking lot to her vehicle to take the previous day's receipts to the bank when a man walked up behind her, stuck a gun in her back and made off with the bank bag containing $2,700. When arrested, Ketelhut gave Crossville Police Det. Bill Padgett a statement, admitting he was the getaway driver that day.
The class A felony of aggravated robbery carries an 8- to 30-year prison sentence to be served at 100 percent. By pleading guilty to robbery — a class C felony — Ketelhut will be facing three to six years in prison, to be served at 30 percent.
Twice, Criminal Court Judge David Patterson told Ketelhut that, while no promises had been made in exchange for his guilty plea, state prosecutors indicated they would offer the court a recommendation for consideration if Ketelhut follows through with plans to testify against Augusti and Gilleand.
A motion hearing in Gileand's case, which is set for trial, is scheduled for Aug. 9. The case against Augusti remains in the court system as well.