Both men involved in a robbery at the Travelodge in December 2015 have taken plea agreements, avoiding a trial that had been set to start this week.
On Tuesday, Eric Ashenfelter, 24, pleaded guilty to an amended charge of attempted first-degree robbery, a Class B felony, as well as to third-degree theft, a misdemeanor; he admitted to an aggravating factor of committing the most serious misdemeanor theft offense.
Ashenfelter’s plea was in return for an offer of five years with three of those suspended for the robbery charge, as well as a flat 30 days for the misdemeanor theft.
He also pleaded guilty to robbery and theft in an unrelated case dating back to September 2015; he was to receive four years with two suspended, plus another 30 days.
According to his attorney, David Mallet, Ashenfelter’s robbery sentences will be served concurrently (at the same time), plus one day, while the theft sentences will be served back to back, with a total to be served of two years and 61 days. He also is to be on supervised felony probation for five years and his probation terms include writing letters of apology to his victims.
He is set for sentencing July 11.
His alleged accomplice, 25-year-old Lee Nelson, had been indicted on a charge of aiding and abetting the robbery. He pleaded guilty in April to fourth-degree assault and third-degree theft, both misdemeanors, in return for a proposed sentence that would net him less than a year in jail, and one year probation. He is set to return to court on June 27 for a status conference.
Ashenfelter hatched a plan to rob the Mendenhall Valley hotel, enlisting Nelson for help; he brandished a gun and stole an estimated $250-$400 from the till, said Assistant District Attorney Amy Paige.
According to the criminal complaint filed against Ashenfelter, he entered the Travelodge Hotel on Dec. 1. 2015, brandishing what appeared to be a gun and holding it to a hotel guest’s face as she was checking in. Ashenfelter then went behind the front desk, hitting the front desk clerk multiple times, causing his head to bleed.
The hotel guest told the Empire at the time of the robbery that she placed her money and phone on the counter, but the suspect didn’t take it.
She said she managed to escape the scene to call for help after another guest waiting for a bus tried to intervene. Ashenfelter reportedly punched the man, then assaulted the hotel attendant behind the counter.
• Contact reporter Liz Kellar at 523-2246 or firstname.lastname@example.org.