The last of five former Cal Poly football players to enter a plea in the case of an ill-fated robbery attempt at a fraternity house in August 2014 will serve more than five years in state prison after being sentenced in San Luis Obispo Superior Court Monday.
As about 40 family members and supporters watched in the courtroom, Judge Donald Umhofer sentenced Cameron Marcel Akins, 20, to five years and two months in prison, of which Akins must serve at least 85 percent before he’s eligible for parole.
Akins, of Monrovia, was the only one of the players to follow through with the early-morning plan to rob Delta Sigma Phi members of marijuana and cash, brandishing an unloaded, Derringer-style pistol during the incident.
In May, he pleaded no contest to three charges against him, including first-degree robbery, first-degree burglary and obstructing a peace officer, as part of a deal with the San Luis Obispo District Attorney’s Office. The robbery charge also included an enhancement for using a firearm during the crime, which carried a minimum of three years in prison, Deputy District Attorney Eric Dobroth, who prosecuted the case, said following Monday’s hearing.
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“This was the kind of case where I think if you asked five people what a reasonable outcome would be, you would get five different answers,” Dobroth said. “The use of the gun, albeit it wasn’t loaded, that significantly increased his exposure.”
Prior to his August 2014 arrest, Akins did not have a criminal history, according to court testimony.
Under the terms of the plea, Akins faced a minimum sentence of four years and six months, and a maximum of 16 years and two months, in state prison, a decision ultimately at the discretion of Umhofer, who opted to impose the lesser of a “triad” of sentencing terms. Dobroth said his office had sought a slightly longer term.
Jeffrey Radding, Akins’ attorney, declined to comment to The Tribune on Monday.
The law really tied our hands on this case, if we are to call it what it is.
Deputy District Attorney Eric Dobroth
According to police reports and witness testimony at a preliminary hearing, Akins and fellow Cal Poly football players Jake Brito, Dominique Love, Cortland Fort and Kristaan Ivory concocted a plan to rob the fraternity. Brito, Ivory and Fort backed out at the last minute, and though Love followed Akins onto the frat house property, he also left before the attempted robbery.
Police responded to the house in the 200 block of California Boulevard and witnessed Akins confronting one of the residents, according to previous testimony. When Akins allegedly attempted to flee, a fraternity member knocked Akins’ handgun from his grip and the two tumbled down a stairway.
Akins then allegedly bit one of the officers during the ensuing struggle, though no one was seriously injured.
Of the five players, Akins is the only one to serve prison time. In September, Love was sentenced to one year in San Luis Obispo County Jail. Ivory and Brito, who prosecutors said were the least culpable, pleaded no contest to a conspiracy charge and were sentenced to probation. Fort also avoided jail and received probation.
Gear McMillan, then-president of the fraternity’s Cal Poly chapter, later pleaded no contest to possessing marijuana for sale and was sentenced to 60 days in County Jail.
Asked whether Akins’ sentence was justified, Dobroth said that his office was obligated to charge Akins with first-degree robbery, and that, under state law, Akins’ use of a firearm — loaded or not — required the additional enhancement.
“We were obligated to impose the weapon (charge),” Dobroth said. “The law really tied our hands on this case, if we are to call it what it is.”
He added that he and Radding worked “scrupulously” to agree on a just outcome that would satisfy the “general deterrence factor” while weighing Akins’ youth, otherwise clean record, and his large number of family and friends to support him when he leaves prison.
“In a future situation where a would-be robber decides to go rob somebody ... if they think to themselves, ‘the last guy got probation,’ versus ‘the last guy went to prison,’ that’s what it came down to,” Dobroth said. “What message do we want to send to the community as a whole?”
Dobroth noted that two other first-degree robbery charges — based on the number of frat members Akins threatened with the gun — were dismissed in the plea deal.
“We’re certainly mindful of this young man, what he has done, what he can do, and his ability to be successful with the support group he has in his life,” he added.