An Eagle Point man who pulled a knife on a Food 4 Less employee after being caught shoplifting in March pleaded guilty to a felony robbery charge Wednesday.
Leonel Olvera-Hernandez Jr., 19, of the 600 block of Talbot Street, Eagle Point, was sentenced to two years, 10 months in prison after pleading guilty to second-degree robbery in Jackson County Circuit Court.
Olvera-Hernandez was shoplifting an Oakland Raiders key ring, shot glasses and eye drops on March 11 when store employees spotted him.
When the employees confronted him, Olvera-Hernandez ran into the parking lot and pulled out a pocket knife. He made threatening statements to a store security officer, but never opened the knife blade, according to Olvera-Hernadez's public defender Christopher Missiaen.
"The victim in this case was not harmed in any way," Missiaen said. "In fact, the victim did not even want the case to go forward."
Missiaen said the responding Medford police officers prodded the security employee into saying Olvera-Hernandez had acted in a dangerous manner so they could charge him with a serous felony.
At one point during the incident, Olvera-Hernandez did say he had a gun, but no firearm was found at the scene.
Olvera-Hernandez originally was arrested on charges of first- and second-degree robbery and third-degree theft. Two of the charges were dropped as part of a plea agreement, leaving only the second-degree robbery charge.
Second-degree robbery is a Measure 11 crime that carries a mandatory minimum prison sentence of five years, 10 months. However, the charge has what's known as a "safety valve" clause, which means the mandatory minimum can be dropped in certain circumstances.
Because Olvera-Hernandez never opened the knife's three-inch blade, it was not considered a deadly weapon under the statute.
That gave Jackson County Circuit Judge Timothy Gerking discretion to impose a sentence shorter than the mandatory minimum.
Missiaen said Olvera-Hernandez has no previous convictions for violent crimes and that he made a foolish mistake the day he was arrested.
"I hope he takes advantage of the programs available to him in prison and gets out and stays on the straight and narrow," Missiaen said.
Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 541-776-4471 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.