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E.C. man pleads guilty to robbing 7-Eleven store

June 19, 2002|By MARIO RENTERÍA

Staff Writer

A 43-year-old El Centro man pleaded guilty on Tuesday to the May robbery of a 7-Eleven store in El Centro and is facing up to five years in state prison.

Manuel Quijas Hernandez pleaded guilty to robbery in the second degree, stated a press release from the county District Attorney's Office.

Hernandez was arrested May 11 on Dogwood Road north of Interstate 8 after he was pulled over by an El Centro police officer for a minor traffic violation. Hernandez was driving a white van. He was also found to be wearing muddy shoes.


Before Hernandez was arrested, a suspect had walked into the 7-Eleven at 485 E. Main St. about 2 a.m. armed with a knife and robbed it.

A clerk who was on duty at the time told police the suspect walked behind the sales counter, produced a knife and said, "Give me the money out of the register."

Ramos was stunned and did not respond. The suspect then said, "I am not playing," and motioned at Ramos with the knife in a threatening manner, according to the press release.

The suspect removed money and food stamps from the register and fled. The suspect also took a 32 ounce bottle of Miller beer.

While police investigated the store for evidence, officers noticed muddy footprints leading to the beer cooler.

The beer cooler had been "fronted," stated the press release, and the only item missing was a 32 ounce bottle of Miller beer.

The muddy footprints then lead officers behind the counter and then outside the store. The information on the muddy footprints was broadcast to other units.

A short time later Hernandez was pulled over and found to have muddy shoes. The officer saw Hernandez with the muddy shoes, a knife and a cold 32 ounce bottle of Miller beer.

He was arrested without further incident. Inside the van, officers found the stolen money and food stamps he had taken.

County Deputy District Attorney Chris Kowalski, who prosecuted the case, said, "This suspect was identified and apprehended due to an observant police officer, his fast reaction, and cooperation between officers.

"Mr. Hernandez should have listened when his mother told him to always wipe his feet," joked Kowalski.

He added, "This case was solved by good police work and Imperial mud."

>> Staff Writer Mario Rentería can be reached at 337-3441.

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