A man accused of attempting to rob people while possessing a knife pleaded guilty to reduced charges on Thursday, and a prosecutor said the case could be less serious than it originally was portrayed.
Richard Opoku-Agyemang, 22, pleaded guilty to third-degree attempted robbery and, in a separate case, class-A misdemeanor possession or use of a controlled substance. Opoku-Agyemang was initially charged with two counts of first-degree aggravated robbery — one count was amended to the aforementioned third-degree felony and the other count was dismissed.
The Herald Journal initially reported Opoku-Agyemang robbed two women at knifepoint. A probable cause affidavit filed with the 1st District Court stated Opoku-Agyemang arrived at the address of the incident in a cab with “a couple females, and Richard demanded the victims pay for the cab.” The affidavit states Opoku-Agyemang had a knife and forced the victim’s to strip to their underwear, robbed them and left the area on foot.
However, during Opoku-Agyemang’s hearing on Thursday, Cache County prosecutor Griffin Hazard said the victims were male and Opoku-Agyemang “took or attempted to take” the victims’ money and cell phone. According to Hazard, one victim chased Opoku-Agyemang after the incident and observed a closed pocket knife in his hand after the incident while the other victim never actually saw a knife.
In an interview with The Herald Journal, defense attorney Mike McGinnis said many of the statements and reports in Opoku-Agyemang’s case had differing facts.
“Every report I got is different,” McGinnis said. “We don’t really know what happened.”
Hazard agreed, stating many of the facts in the case were different from what was initially alleged. Hazard said one victim was scared of Opoku-Agyemang, perceived him to be on drugs and was afraid of what he might do. However, Hazard said it appears Opoku-Agyemang never actually brandished a knife.
Hazard said while he believed there was enough evidence to prosecute on the original first-degree charges, the facts of the case were not presented clearly — the initial story and the story that emerged didn’t mirror each other.
“This whole case is very confusing,” Hazard said, which he explained was why the first-degree aggravated charges were amended to a single third-degree felony.
Hazard said the victims in the case were contacted and were comfortable with the plea agreement.
Opoku-Agyemang had also been held in quarantine at the jail for several weeks, which further delayed his case. At a hearing in June, McGinnis told the court he had not been allowed to speak with Opoku-Agyemang and another client he represented as a result of jail quarantine procedures. He told the court Opoku-Agyemang and Nathanael Bouse had no access to phones, video conference calls or in-person communication at the jail and voiced concern over their constitutional rights. The issue was resolved shortly thereafter and Opoku-Agyemang’s case moved forward.
For McGinnis, the risk-to-reward ratio for his client was heavily skewed. He said if Opoku-Agyemang went to trial for two first-degree felonies and lost, he could then be sentenced to life in the Utah State Prison. Now, after accepting a plea agreement, McGinnis said Opoku-Agyemang will likely be sentenced to probation and allowed to carry on with his life.
“He totally got dealt a raw deal,” McGinnis said in regard to the whole of Opoku-Agyemang’s situation.
Judge Angela Fonnesbeck ordered Opoku-Agyemang’s supervised release during Thursday’s hearing.
Opoku-Agyemang is scheduled to be sentenced on Aug. 24.