Two men accused of tackling and robbing an older man who was leaving a Riverton bar one night this past June have accepted plea agreements that could get them seven years in prison for each.
The accused thieves also reportedly took the man’s Lincoln Continental, which someone later found engulfed in flames west of Riverton.
Anthony Bigmedicine, 26, filed a plea agreement Wednesday agreeing to plead guilty to a felony robbery charge.
Whitehawk Sunrhodes, 18, filed a Nov. 3 plea agreement, and on Nov. 7 pleaded guilty to felony robbery. He confessed to waiting for an older man outside the bar, asking him for a cigarette, tackling him, rifling though his pockets and taking his car for a joyride.
Bigmedicine’s plea agreement lets the prosecutor argue for any sentence up to seven years in prison, while Sunrhodes’ agreement specifies a sentence of between five and seven years – with a recommendation for Sunrhodes’ to go to Wyoming’s youthful offender program, which some call “boot camp.”
Sunrhodes confessed to the crime of felony robbery in detail at his Nov. 7 change of plea hearing in Lander.
“I was outside a bar in Riverton and there was this old man,” Sunrhodes told Judge Jason Conder.
In an earlier confession to police, Sunrhodes described waiting with Bigmedicine to ambush the “old white guy.”
“He came out of the bar. I asked him if he had a cigarette. He said no,” Sunrhodes said. “After that I followed him to the parking lot across the street.”
Just when the man turned around to confront Sunhrodes, the latter threw the older man to the ground, scraping his elbow. Sunrhodes rifled through the man’s pockets and took his phone, car keys and cigarettes, then ran away, leaving the man lying there.
Court documents say that Sunrhodes and Bigmedicine later went back and hopped in the car, picked up two females and drove around until later, at Riverton City Park, Sunrhodes and Bigmedicine got in a fight and parted ways.
Judge Has Doubts
Under Sunrhodes’ plea agreement, the prosecutor will ask the judge to dismiss two more felonies against him – but Sunrhodes would still have to pay victim restitution on those two charges.
If Judge Jason Conder rejects the agreement, Sunrhodes, like Bigmedicine, could withdraw his guilty plea and advance to trial or strike a new plea agreement.
Conder expressed uncertainty at Sunrhodes’ change-of-plea hearing.
“Mr. Sunrhodes, I’ll tell you right now, I don’t know whether I’ll take this deal or not,” said Conder. “I’ll have to find out about the presentence report. I need to know more about you and all that’s going on. I must say, it’s very concerning and I’ll leave it at that. We’ll find out in January.”
Sunrhodes’ sentencing hearing is set for Jan. 17.
Pay Restitution On Both Though
Bigmedicine was originally charged with robbery and burglary, each punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
But in exchange for his guilty plea, the case prosecutor will ask the Fremont County District Court to dismiss Bigmedicine’s felony burglary charge.
Though the prosecutor can argue for up to seven years, Bigmedicine can argue for any sentence he deems appropriate.
Also under the plea agreement, Bigmedicine still will have to pay victim restitution on both counts with which he was originally charged.
If Conder rejects these terms, Bigmedicine may withdraw his guilty plea and advance to trial or agree to a different set of terms, the plea agreement says.
Bigmedicine’s court file does not yet indicate when he will plead guilty.
According to the evidentiary affidavit in Bigmedicine’s case, it was 12 minutes after midnight June 18 when Riverton Police Department Officer Ethan Borchardt responded to an address near a downtown bar on a robbery report.
The victim, who is 68, said two men followed him as he was leaving the bar.
He turned to confront them and they tackled him, scraping up his left elbow, the man said, adding that this was a “football tackle,” not a push.
They held him to the ground and rifled through his pockets, taking his cigarettes, lighter and car keys, the man said. Then they ran, leaving him lying on the ground.
Two hours after the man gave this report, he called again to report his 2003 Lincoln Continental stolen.
I Know That Guy
Borchardt posted surveillance photos from the bar to RPD’s Facebook page to ask the community for help identifying the men.
A woman called in and identified them.
Law enforcement arrested Sunrhodes at some point that summer: RPD Detective Wes Barry learned July 27 that Sunrhodes was in custody at the Fremont County Detention Center.
Barry went the next day to interview Sunrhodes, who confessed that he and Bigmedicine waited outside the bar for the older male, tackled him and took his things, the affidavit says.
They came back later and found the car, got in and took it driving all morning with two of Sunrhodes’ sisters, both age 16, he said.
They reportedly took the vehicle “car hopping,” or going from car to car in town and checking for unlocked doors to steal items of value. They found glasses and flashlights and took those, the affidavit relates.
That same morning when the four were at Riverton City Park, Bigmedicine got angry with Sunrhodes and allegedly punched him. So Sunrhodes walked away and didn’t see the other three again that day, he claimed.
Later he saw a news report that the Lincoln had been set on fire on Airport Road west of Riverton, Sunrhodes said.
Clair McFarland can be reached at Clair@CowboyStateDaily.com.