A Marshall County jury found Raquan McKinstry, 19 from South Bend, guilty of armed robbery back on June 14, 2017, after a two day trial. Wednesday, McKinstry learned of his fate from Judge Robert O. Bowen of the Marshall Superior Court No. 1. After hearing McKinstry’s grandmother plead for leniency, and the arguments of Chief Deputy Prosecutor Tami Napier and defense counsel Tom Strickler, Bowen sentenced the 19 year old to nine years imprisonment at the Indiana Department of Corrections, with none of the time suspended.
Bowen detailed the basis of his reasoning by emphasizing the aggravating and mitigating circumstances weighed equally thereby justifying a sentence designated as the advisory sentence for the Level 3 felony offense. Pointing out the act was a crime of violence and McKinstry was at the time of the crime on probation for a prior offense, Bowen went with the statutory advisory sentence of 9 years imprisonment. Bowen could have sentenced the teenager to a low of three years and to as much as sixteen.
The offense began in February of 2016 when McKinstry agreed through Facebook to sell an IPhone to an individual for a little over $100. ( The victim was under the age of 18 at the time and therefore their name will not be used.) The parties agreed to meet at night on February 29, 2016, in the Sears parking lot on the north edge of Plymouth. Upon his arrival, the victim got out of his car and McKinstry got out of the car in which he was a passenger. Another male accompanied McKinstry and an older female was the driver. Those two individuals have never been apprehended, and McKinstry refuses to identify them.
McKinstry asked the victim if he or any of his passengers were armed, upon which they answered in the negative. McKinstry’s companion then pulled a handgun and held it up to the victim’s head and demanded his money. McKinstry took the victim’s money out of the victim’s wallet and then drove off with his two accomplices. A visibly and understandably upset victim drove with his companions to the Plymouth McDonald’s to report the crime.
Prosecuting Attorney Nelson Chipman lauded the decision of the jury and stated, “it is quite evident the members of the jury deliberated thoroughly and precisely with the evidence that was given to them in court. Marshall County citizens should be very grateful for that jury’s hard work.”
Chipman also emphasized the excellent police work from Plymouth PD that led to McKinstry’s eventual apprehension and successful prosecution. From Officer Shanna Gilmer’s initial contact with the victim and his companions to the excellent detective work of Leo Mangus. “We all can be very proud of the work of Plymouth PD on that frightful night,” Chipman said. “And we all can be thankful no one was physically hurt.”
Lastly, and equally as important, Chipman implores citizens to use extreme caution when dealing with people met on the internet. “We all understand that people are going to sell and buy items they learn about on the internet, particularly through social media such as Facebook. But I cannot over emphasize caution in dealing with strangers. When completing a transaction,,,,,, when you meet to exchange an item for money,,,,,, agree to meet in the parking lot of your local police department or the Sheriff’s Department. Don’t ever agree to meet in an out of the way location, or in a darkened parking lot. If the other party insists on such a location, then think twice and perhaps you didn’t really need that item all that much after all.”