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Guilty Pleas Entered in DeWolfe Robbery Case

Kurtis Landon and Nicholas Aletras entered guilty pleas Tuesday morning in a robbery and terrorism case involving Windham Township resident Irene DeWolfe. The incident occurred on Nov. 10, 2003 when the two entered Mrs. DeWolfe's home and stole $600 from her after threatening her with guns and a knife. Both men, who have been incarcerated in the Wyoming County Jail for nearly a year, pled to an identical charge, that of felony one robbery.

Landon and Aletras were originally charged with robbery, burglary, theft by unlawful taking and terroristic threats. Aletras, who admitted stabbing Mrs. DeWolfe's pet dog to death during the incident, was also originally charged with killing, maiming or poisoning a domestic animal.

However, on Tuesday morning, all of these charges except the robbery charge against both defendants were considered nolle prosequi; this means that they were in effect dropped. The weapons enhancement to the robbery charge, which could affect the severity of any sentencing imposed, was also not invoked.

Additionally, several drug charges against both defendants, which formed the basis for other cases against them, were also nullified as part of the plea agreement.

District Attorney George Skumanick said that he negotiated a plea agreement largely because Landon's confession had been thrown out by Judge Brendan Vanston in a pre-trial ruling. "That was a key piece of evidence," Skumanick said, for the prosecution.

Also, Aletras and Landon pled to the most serious of the crimes with which they were originally charged, Skumanick explained, adding that the sentences for the other crimes would very likely have been merged with the sentencing for robbery in the end, since all the charges stemmed from a single incident. "I feel [the defendants] are being held accountable for what they did," Skumanick said.

He said that dropping all drug charges outstanding against the two defendants had also been part of the plea agreement, even though the charges arose from a separate incident.

According to Skumanick, the victim, Mrs. DeWolfe, is "happy" with the outcome of the case.

Following the usual admonitions to the defendants regarding their rights, Vanston heard Aletras's plea. Aletras is being represented by Paul Ackourey. Aletras, a 23-year-old, unemployed college graduate, answered Vanston's questions clearly.

Vanston reiterated that the DA had agreed not to invoke the weapons enhancement and would be seeking sentencing within the "standard range." The sentencing for felony robbery is a maximum of 20 years in prison and/or a $25,000 fine.

Ackourey clarified that his client would not stipulate as to the use of a weapon against Mrs. DeWolfe, but did agree that force had been used in the robbery.

Judge Vanston accepted Aletras's guilty plea.

Kurtis Landon's plea was then accepted. Landon, 21, is an unemployed high school graduate and is being defended by Attorney Jim Davis. Landon told Judge Vanston that he had undergone some psychiatric counseling, but that he understood everything going on in the court and didn't feel his psychiatric history was a roadblock to his competence to enter his plea.

After a repetition of similar rhetoric with regard to the plea itself, Vanston accepted this plea as well.

Sentencing is expected to take place later this year, after any pre-sentencing motions have been filed and reviewed.

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