ST. GEORGE — Two St. George men appeared in court for sentencing Tuesday for an armed robbery last year at a local motel. The incident took place two days before Christmas, when the suspects forced one of the guests to withdraw funds from several banks and then burglarized the guest’s hotel room.
The two defendants, 26-year-old Jacob Hancock and 31-year-old Drake Beckler, appeared before 5th District Judge Michael G. Westfall via video. Each pleaded guilty to multiple felony charges related to the case, including aggravated robbery, assault and theft of a firearm.
The sentencing hearing stems from an incident reported Dec. 23 at a local motel on St. George Boulevard involving a man who was reportedly robbed by several suspects. Through the course of the investigation, officers identified Hancock and Beckler as two of the suspects involved.
At the time of the incident, it was reported that three men entered the motel room armed with handguns pointed at the guest and demanded money from him for “a debt” Hancock claimed the man owed.
Using a stun gun repeatedly during the incident, the man was forced into a vehicle and driven to three banks in St. George, where he attempted to cash a check from his wallet and get cash out of the ATM using his debit card – attempts that failed – while the suspects continued shocking the man with the stun gun, court records indicate.
The suspects then returned to the motel room and took about $1,500 worth of property from the man in addition to a Tel-Tec handgun and $100 that was transferred from the man’s account. As the suspects were attempting to take the man to another bank to attempt to cash the check, the guest fled into an open room and secured the door before calling police.
The investigation into the incident continued up until Hancock’s eventually arrest in Mesquite in January, when an officer found the suspect slumped over the steering wheel in a vehicle parked at one of the casinos. After finding drug paraphernalia and multiple knives, as well as methamphetamine, heroin and a loaded 22 caliber handgun, the suspect was arrested and later charged with 10 felonies for crimes committed in Nevada.
While in custody, Hancock admitted to being at the St. George motel but claimed the man owed him $250 for a paint sprayer and said he took the gun and property as “collateral for the money owed,” the officer noted in the report. Hancock was returned to Utah a short time later.
During Tuesday’s hearing, Hancock was sentenced to serve 120 days in jail on second-degree felony aggravated robbery and theft of a firearm, along with third-degree felony theft, possession of a firearm and theft by receiving, charges he pleaded guilty to back in September. The state agreed to amend the first-degree felony charge to a second-degree felony, and no charges were dismissed in the case. He was also given credit for time served and has been out of custody since his release in May.
Hancock was placed on 48 months of probation with Adult Probation and Parole and ordered to pay $10,920 in restitution, along with $1,015 in fines and court fees. He was also ordered to write a letter of apology to the victim to be submitted to the court for approval, as well as follow all standard terms of his probation.
Beckler, the second suspect, was initially arrested for a narcotics charge shortly after Hancock when officers found him during a search of Hancock’s residence. He was later identified as the second suspect involved in the hotel incident, and during an interview with police, he admitted to participating in the robbery.
Beckler was later charged with one count each of first-degree felony count of aggravated kidnapping, aggravated robbery and aggravated burglary, along with three third-degree felonies, including aggravated assault and two counts of possession of a firearm by a restricted person. He was also charged with misdemeanor drug possession.
During sentencing, Beckler was ordered to serve 270 days in jail on second-degree felony aggravated robbery and theft of a firearm, along with third-degree felony theft and possession of a firearm, as well as misdemeanor drug theft. The defendant pleaded guilty to five of the charges in June while five charges were dismissed under the terms of the plea agreement.
The defendant was also placed on 48-months probation with Adult Probation and Parole and was ordered to pay $1,000 in restitution, $715 in fines and court fees and to comply with the standard terms upon his release from jail.
Five prison terms for Hancock and four for Beckler were also suspended in each of the cases, along with more than $32,000 in fines.
A third party was believed to be involved in the December incident, but as of publication of this article, there is no information on that person.
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