ST. GEORGE – A woman who was half of a couple accused of armed robbery and taking part in vehicle burglaries pleaded guilty in court Tuesday.
Elizabeth Lynn Richards, 33, of LaVerkin, entered guilty pleas in 5th District Court to amended charges of second-degree felony aggravated robbery and third-degree felony forgery. Other charges originally tagged onto the cases, including multiple charges of aggravated assault and vehicle burglary, were dropped.
The second-degree felony can carry a sentence of up to 15 years in prison, while the third-degree felony can carry up to five years.
Sentencing has been scheduled for Oct. 31.
The second-degree felony stems from the armed robbery of the Hurricane Family Pharmacy shortly before 6 p.m. June 21.
During the incident, Kevin Richards, Elizabeth Richards’ husband, allegedly entered the pharmacy wearing a bandana and a hat in an attempt to hide his appearance and pointed a pistol at five employees.
He demanded medication, particularly oxycodone, and at one point started a countdown as employees grabbed the demanded items. He subsequently left the scene with a large amount of medication. Employees watched him leave in a white Nissan Altima that Elizabeth Richards was driving, according to court papers.
Hurricane City Police located the Nissan soon after and took Kevin and Elizabeth Richards into custody without incident.
“Located within the vehicle were several bottles of medication identified as oxycodone, confirmed to be from the pharmacy,” a Hurricane City Police officer wrote in the probable cause statement.
After being taken to the Police Department and given her Miranda rights, Elizabeth Richards told police she had been picking up medication at the pharmacy and left prior to the robbery. She said she witnessed nothing suspicious and that her husband stayed in the car the whole time.
“When pressed about her involvement in this incident, Elizabeth requested to speak to an attorney,” according to the probable cause statement.
Kevin Richards told police that his wife wasn’t involved in the robbery. Instead, he said a third party named “Sketchy” had committed the robbery instead.
He said he had been out and about trying to find someone to sell him pills. Along the way he met Sketchy in LaVerkin. Sketchy said he had a prescription for oxycodone, so Kevin Richards took him to the pharmacy where the prescription could be filled. Kevin told police he had hoped to buy some pills off Sketchy as he has an addiction to them.
Sketchy was the only person that went into the pharmacy, Kevin Richards said, and then exited with a white bag. He said Sketchy was acting strange after leaving the pharmacy, and after departing, told Elizabeth Richards to stop the car. When she did, he grabbed some bottles from the bag and bolted, telling Kevin the rest of the bottles in the white bag were his, according to the probable cause statement.
Kevin Richards said he was confused about what was going on and it was only a few minutes later that the police pulled the car over.
Elizabeth Richards made no mention of a third party.
During the investigation, police searched the Nissan for evidence, as well as the route which it had traveled. Along the way they found a pistol, later confirmed to be a .38 caliber revolver which had been thrown from the vehicle while it was driven from the pharmacy.
In addition to pleading guilty to her part in the pharmacy robbery, Elizabeth Richards also pleaded guilty in relation to her involvement in vehicle burglaries she and Kevin Richards are accused of committing earlier that month.
The Richards are alleged by police to have broken into a number of vehicles and taken items that included a checkbook, briefcase and laptop, among other things. Elizabeth Richards used two checks from the stolen checkbook that amounted to nearly $1700.
Police searched the Richards’ home where they located a briefcase and checkbook in addition to a firearm reported stolen out of northern Utah. Tickets for items pawned at local pawn shops were also found, as was alleged drug paraphernalia.
Last week Kevin Richards appeared in U.S. District Court and was charged with a “Hobbs Act Robbery” in relation to the armed robbery of the Hurricane Family Pharmacy. The charge equates to using violence or a threat of violence to commit a robbery that disrupts commerce. It carries a potential 20-year prison term.
He was also charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm; and using, carrying and brandishing that firearm during a criminal act.
A count of being a felon with a firearm can carry a maximum of 10 years, while using and brandishing a firearm during a crime can carry a minimum mandatory term of seven years.
It is anticipated that Utah’s criminal case of Kevin Richards will be dropped due to it being picked up in U.S. District Court, Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Kohler said last week.
Kevin Richards pleaded not guilty to the federal charges and is scheduled to go to trial in November.
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