Crime

Starbucks robber who was stopped in fight with good Samaritan is found guilty

Accused Starbucks robber Ryan Michael Flores was found guilty Tuesday of attempted robbery and assault with deadly weapon on a man who stopped him in the act – a crime that was captured by the coffee shop’s video surveillance camera.

But the Superior Court jury also said Flores didn’t inflict great bodily injury on 58-year-old Cregg Jerri, who suffered a knife wound to his neck while breaking up the attempted robbery at Starbucks near Herndon Avenue and Highway 99 on July 20.

If the great bodily injury allegation had been proven, three years would have been added to Flores’ prison sentence, said Richard Esquivel, Flores’ lawyer.

Flores, 30, now faces a prison sentence of up to five years and eight months when he is sentenced on Dec. 13 in Judge W. Kent Hamlin’s courtroom. Until his sentencing hearing, Flores will be held without bail in the Fresno County Jail.

Jurors, who deliberated less than five hours, apparently were swayed by a video of the attempted robbery.

In the video, Flores is wearing a Transformers mask and holding a gun that was later determined to be fake. While Flores demands money from a barista, Jerri sneaks up behind Flores and smashes a chair over his head. As the two men fight on the floor, Jerri manages to take a knife from Flores and stabs him repeatedly.

Flores managed to escape, driving to an area near Ashlan and Fruit avenues, where police found him near a canal after being alerted by residents.

In all, Flores suffered 17 knife wounds. Jerri’s neck wound required seven staple stitches.

During the trial, prosecutor David Olmos told the jury that Jerri’s “ will and fortitude” stopped the robbery.

Esquivel agreed that Flores intended to rob Starbucks, but told the jury that Flores was only trying to defend himself against Jerri.

According to Esquivel, Flores robbed Starbucks because he needed money to buy food for his wife and child, as well as diapers. Prior to the attempted robbery, Flores has no criminal record, Esquivel said.

Esquivel said the video clearly shows that Jerri quickly got the upper hand after smashing the chair over Flores’ head. “He got on top of him, took the knife from him, and stabbed him five or six times in the side,” Esquivel said.

The assault stops momentarily, Esquivel said, after Flores told Jerri: “I have a kid. Don’t kill me.”

But second later, Jerri begins to stab Flores multiple times in the head, Esquivel said.

In an interview with The Bee before his trial, Flores admitted that he was wrong to rob the coffee shop. But Flores says he pulled out the knife because he only was trying to get away after Jerri smacked him with the chair.

Jerri was later honored by the Fresno Police Department for his heroism.

Flores and his parents have accused Jerri of using excessive force, and they said they may sue him. But Esquivel said Flores’ conviction could complicate any plans to sue.

Pablo Lopez: 559-441-6434, @beecourts

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