Suspected gangbanger gets 20 years in prison

William Labreck



A man prosecutors believe is affiliated with the Folk Nation gang Satan’s Disciples was sentenced to 20 years in prison Friday afternoon for robbing a Grand Junction store at gunpoint in November, despite telling a judge he had changed his mind about the plea.

William Labreck, 27, was arrested in December, several weeks after witnesses identified him as the man in a black hoodie and mask who used a gun to rob La Mexicana Market, 2851½ North Ave., No. 6.

Labreck pleaded guilty to a single count of aggravated robbery, a felony, on May 23 and appeared Friday before Mesa County District Judge Richard Gurley for sentencing.

Former store employee Maria Cruz Ruiz said Friday that she is traumatized after Labreck grabbed her by her hair, punched her and held a gun to her.

“I can’t be alone because I wake up crying and screaming because I am dreaming the gun is … in front of me,” Cruz Ruiz said through an interpreter. “My husband and my children tell me I am not the same person I was before. … I don’t know that I will ever be able to get past it completely.”

Prosecutor Melinda Shishim asked for 20 years, the maximum allowed under Labreck’s plea, noting past convictions for violent crimes, escapes and weapons charges, and his suspected gang affiliation.

Public Defender Steve Colvin said Labreck wanted to withdraw from his plea and take the case to trial.

Colvin said his client seemed to feel that Colvin had “pressured” him into taking the deal. Colvin said he was ready to present arguments for sentencing, but that if Gurley allowed Labreck to withdraw from his plea, he should appoint Labreck a new attorney.

“I think that puts me in a conflicting position,” Colvin said.

Gurley refused to allow Labreck to change his plea, noting that at the May 23 plea hearing, the defendant had been asked a series of questions including whether he was “freely and voluntarily” entering into the plea.

Colvin asked for a shorter prison sentence and said Labreck’s criminal history is actually less than it could be considering the dangerous environment of his childhood in a crime-ridden Florida neighborhood.

Colvin also said Labreck maintains he is the victim of a mistaken identity and that he is not affiliated with Satan’s Disciples.

Labreck’s many distinctive — and seemingly gang-related — tattoos were used to identify him after the robbery.

Gurley sided with Shishim and ordered 20 years in prison followed by five years of parole.

“This was not an insignificant event,” Gurley said.


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