Whitman Defendant Seeks Deal

By Josh Barr
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 29, 2006

All-Met linebacker Pat Lazear, scheduled to stand trial today in Montgomery County Circuit Court for his alleged role in the robbery of a Smoothie King store, plans to plead guilty to a lesser charge, his attorney said last night.

Paul Kemp said he remains in negotiations with prosecutors and that a deal might not be finalized until this morning, but he expects Lazear to plead guilty to conspiracy to commit robbery. It is the same misdemeanor charge that a jury convicted co-defendant Justin Schweiger of last week and carries a maximum punishment of 15 years in prison.

In exchange, Kemp said, prosecutors would drop felony charges of armed robbery and conspiracy to commit armed robbery, which are punishable by up to 20 years in prison apiece.

"I think if we knock out a few more details, we'll be able to hammer it out," Kemp said. "We've already worked out some of the issues. We anticipate it won't be a contested trial."

Kemp declined to discuss specific details of any agreement because negotiations were not complete. Assistant state's attorney Tom DeGonia declined to comment.

Lazear, Schweiger and three former Whitman High classmates were charged in connection with the March 30 robbery of a Smoothie King store in Bethesda. One of the teenagers, Robert Warren, pleaded guilty to armed robbery and served one month in jail; the rest of his five-year sentence was suspended. Alex Krouskas is scheduled for trial on Jan. 8. Tommy Ashley's case was waived to juvenile court.

During Schweiger's trial last week, Warren testified Lazear provided the replica gun used in the heist as well as a ski mask that Warren wore. Lazear also drove the getaway vehicle, Warren said.

The students, all football players and wrestlers except for Krouskas, were sent to other schools in Montgomery County this school year; Lazear was transferred to Wheaton.

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