There was news on three fronts related to the robberies of the Charlevoix E-Z Mart in March of 2013 and December of 2014.
This morning in the 33rd Circuit Court, Matthew Allen DeNise, 21, of Charlevoix, was sentenced to 24 to 60 months in prison for his role as a co-defendant in the March 2013 robbery. DeNise pled guilty to attempted armed robbery on September 21.
DeNise admitted that he and Dennis Robert McKee, 21, of Charlevoix robbed the station, located at the corner of US-31 and M-66 on March 26. McKee placed a finger in his jacket to scare the clerk into believing he had a gun.
The perpetrators left with $275.52 which they said they stole in order to purchase drugs.
McKee also pled guilty and was sentenced on August 7, 2015 to 36 to 120 months in prison where he is currently held at the Carson City Correctional Facility.
Today Charlevoix County Prosecuting Attorney Allen Telgenhof also announced that he had authorized a charge of larceny from a person, against McKee for committing the December 14, 2014 robbery at the very same E-Z Mart. Larceny from a person is the same charge McKee previously pleaded guilty to and carries a maximum sentence of ten years in prison.
As part of his deal in that case, McKee agreed to cooperate with police with respect to the second robbery. He testified at a preliminary examination on June 4, 2015 that he planned the 2014 robbery with Blackwell but that he did not follow through and Blackwell acted alone.
Officials now believe that the evidence points instead to McKee, resulting in the change of defendants.
“This has been an ongoing investigation,” Telgenhof said. “While there was evidence that Mr. Blackwell planned and committed the robbery and the judge found probable cause to believe he committed the crime, Deputy Chief Scott Hankins of the City of Charlevoix Police continued to investigate to be sure we had the right person. There is evidence that Mr. Blackwell may have been involved in the planning but did not participate in the actual robbery. As soon as the evidence pointed to Mr. McKee, we made the decision to dismiss the case against Mr. Blackwell and charge Mr. McKee.”
According to an affidavit filed in the new case, unlike the first robbery, McKee used an actual gun to commit this robbery.
“It has been a winding road finding credible evidence in these cases, but through the fine detective work of Scott Hankins and the tough but fair sentences from Judge Hayes, we have both of the people who committed the first robbery in prison at this time,” Telgenhof said.
The charge against McKee is a mere allegation at this time and he is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.