Crime

‘Templeton 5’ defendant loses plea deal for lying. Now he could face 100 years in prison.

Albert Heinicke, one of five accused of robbery during a house party in Templeton, testifies during a January hearing for former co-defendant Wyatt Douglas Warnars.
Albert Heinicke, one of five accused of robbery during a house party in Templeton, testifies during a January hearing for former co-defendant Wyatt Douglas Warnars. dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

One of the young men who allegedly robbed a Templeton house party at gunpoint last summer lost his plea deal after a judge found he lied in his testimony against his former friends.

As a result, if convicted, he could face decades in prison instead of fewer than 10 years.

Albert Heinicke Jr., 18, is one of the group of 16- to 19-year-olds dubbed the “Templeton 5” who were arrested following a home-invasion style robbery of roughly two dozen high school and college-aged people at a party in July 2016. According to previous testimony, victims were rounded up and made to lie face-down in the backyard while Heinicke and others stole electronic items, liquor and a car.

Though Heinicke was believed to have struck one of the victims in the head with a baseball bat during the robbery, he was offered a deal by the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office of 8 years in state prison in exchange for testimony against his four co-defendants — Donovan James Alvord, 19; Levi Cody Mattson and Wyatt Douglas Warnars, both 17; and Marshal Ryan Kaplan, 16.

Those four were not offered deals in exchange for testimony, though they were offered prison sentences ranging from roughly 10 to 22 years for no contest pleas to the dozens of charges against them.

Alvord has since pleaded no contest and will likely receive 10 years in prison. Mattson’s and Kaplan’s attempts to have their cases tried in juvenile court, where penalties are drastically reduced, were denied last month.

Who’s going to want to enter into an agreement with the DA if they’re going to pull the plea even when you’ve already shared (info) with authorities and now you’re going to be labeled a snitch?

Kirk Endres, attorney for Albert Heinicke

However, Heinicke testified in January during Warnars’ attempt to take his case down to juvenile court. While on the stand, Heinicke contradicted information he gave to DA’s Office investigators, namely that he had seen Warnars fire a rifle during the robbery. Superior Court Judge John Trice ultimately ruled that Warnars will be tried as a juvenile.

Deputy District Attorney Lindsey Bittner, who offered Heinicke the deal, filed a motion to withdraw the agreement based on Hienicke not sharing information “truthfully and completely.”

Transcripts of that interview are sealed from the public.

On Tuesday, Heinicke’s attorney, Kirk Endres, argued to Trice that Heinicke wasn’t intentionally being untruthful and said that Bittner had “buyer’s remorse” for what she received from Heinicke. He said that taking back the deal would “undermine the administration of justice.”

“Who’s going to want to enter into an agreement with the DA if they’re going to pull the plea even when you’ve already shared (info) with authorities and now you’re going to be labeled a snitch?” Endres said.

He didn’t tell the truth — he shouldn’t get his deal.

Deputy District Attorney Lindsey Bittner

Bittner countered that the deal was straightforward.

“There’s nothing tricky about his contract,” Bittner said. “He didn’t tell the truth — he shouldn’t get his deal,” she said.

In issuing his ruling, Trice said he was struck by Heinicke’s “cavalier attitude” during his testimony, and said he felt that Heinicke was trying to “pawn off” responsibility to a juvenile (Warnars) and to take responsibility for other actions during the robbery to help out the other defendants, with whom he was closer friends.

Heinicke remains in County Jail in lieu of $5 million bail.

A pre-trial conference for Heinicke is scheduled for June 22. If convicted on all counts, he faces more than 100 years in prison.

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