Despite plea for leniency, man with 28 convictions over 40 years sentenced to prison for robbery

The 5th District Court courthouse building in Cedar City, Utah, June 8, 2021 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

CEDAR CITY — Despite his pleas to be given yet another chance at probation, a 60-year-old man has received a prison sentence of one to 15 years for robbing a Cedar City business.

Stuart Alan Walraven was sentenced by 5th District Judge Matthew L. Bell on Monday.

As reported previously in Cedar City News, Walraven was arrested by Cedar City Police officers following a foot chase on April 10, 2020. He reportedly matched the description of a man who had robbed a nearby MetroPCS cell phone service store. According to the charging documents filed in support of his arrest, police also found a pellet gun, cash and a mask in Walraven’s possession.

Although Walraven was originally charged with aggravated robbery, a first-degree felony, and misdemeanor counts of failure to stop at command of police, obstructing justice and interfering with an officer, he ended up pleading guilty on Jan. 11 to a single count of second-degree felony robbery as part of a plea agreement with prosecutors.

During Monday’s court session, during which Walraven appeared via videoconference from Iron County Jail, he and defense lawyer Troy Sundquist both asked the judge for leniency.

“I’m 60 years old now,” Walraven told the court, “and I can’t keep making such bad mistakes that keep bringing me back to jail or prison. I am emotionally exhausted, physically exhausted, from this terrible past mistake I made. … I can’t keep doing this. It is destroying me and mentally and physically, hurting my family as well and my friends as well.”

Stuart Walraven, 60, appears in court for his sentencing via videoconference from Iron County Jail, Cedar City, Utah, June 7, 2021 | Screenshot image courtesy of 5th District Court, St. George News / Cedar City News

Walraven said this incident was different than any other time he has been incarcerated, noting that he recently learned of a chance to reconcile with his 89-year-old father, from whom he has been estranged for 30 years.

“I am asking to have one last chance to be released on probation,” he said.

However, Iron County Attorney Chad Dotson argued that prison time was appropriate, citing Walraven’s extensive criminal history over the past four decades.

“By my count here, this is (Walraven’s) 28th conviction since 1980,” Dotson said. “Fourteen of those convictions are felonies, two prior assault convictions, one prior weapons.”

Dotson added that Walraven has been to prison twice before and had numerous prior opportunities for probation and parole.

“This current offense was committed while he was on supervised felony probation by adult probation and parole,” he said. “There’s no other recommendation that the state could in good faith make, other than Mr. Walraven has earned a stay at the Utah State Prison based on his conduct in this case.”

The judge ultimately agreed with prosecutors as he imposed the prison sentence. However, the judge did waive all fines and fees. Additionally, Bell also sentenced Walraven for violating his parole agreements in two previous cases dating to 2018 and 2019, but he allowed those sentences of up to 5 years to run concurrently with the robbery sentence. 

How much time Walraven ultimately ends up serving in prison will be up to the Board of Pardons, the court noted.

Earlier in the hearing, Bell had commended Walraven for writing an apology to the employee who’d been working at the store during the robbery.

“I’m glad you wrote a letter to the victim,” Bell said. “I can only imagine what it must be like to go to work at some business, and have your life changed by someone desperate for cereal, or whatever the excuse is, to come put a gun in front of them and take money. No one should have to deal with that. It’s terrifying. Thankfully, it didn’t turn out worse for you or them.”

However, Bell called Walraven’s action’s “unacceptable and frightening.”

“Unfortunately,” he said, “it comes at the end of decades of criminal behavior and poor performance on probation.”

Bell told Walraven he gave the case plenty of thought before handing down the sentence.

“Your heart might be in the right place,” he said. “I’ll tell you something, Mr. Walraven: I’m really glad to know that it bothered you. It should, what you did. And if it didn’t bother you, and you could stick a gun in somebody’s face and take their money and not think twice about it, then I wouldn’t think twice about sending you to prison. I have thought twice. I still think it’s the right decision. It’s the right sentence. That’s what I’m going to impose. And I hope you’ll make the best of your time there.”

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

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