Crime

Man escaping with stolen cash knocked down, injured elderly customer, prosecutors say

A Modesto man who knocked down an elderly customer during an apparent convenience store robbery has been sentenced to six years in prison, and prosecutors said it could have been more.

Adrian David Lopez, 35, on Oct. 11 pleaded no contest to battery causing serious injury, the Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office announced Oct. 18 in a news release.

Lopez already had been ordered to stand trial, but the plea allowed him to avoid the trial. Felony charges of assault and robbery and two misdemeanor counts of petty theft were dropped.

The conviction stemmed from a June 4 incident at the Union 76 gas station at Coffee Road and Floyd Avenue in north Modesto.

Lopez went into the gas station’s store and waited in line to purchase a drink. Prosecutors said Lopez reached across the front counter and grabbed money from the open cash drawer.

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The Modesto Police Department — which was trying to identify the suspect at the time — released the store’s security camera footage. The video showed the elderly customer heading out of the store when the suspect reached the front counter and handed the clerk cash for his drink.

The clerk then opened the cash register, and the suspect reached for the cash. As the suspect exited the store with the stolen cash and the drink, he knocked down the elderly customer, the video showed. The victim was on the ground as the robbery suspect escaped.

Prosecutors said the victim suffered a severe cut that required stitches. Authorities said Lopez struck again June 7 at a CVS pharmacy at Oakdale Road and Floyd Avenue and at another store June 10.

In those reported thefts, Lopez waited in line and grabbed money from open cash registers when he reached the store counter, according to prosecutors.

The Modesto police Major Crimes Unit linked Lopez to the thefts using social media, the store’s video and tips from the public. Lopez was arrested June 11. Prosecutors said Lopez, at the time of thefts, was on supervised release after serving a sentence in the county jail in 2016 for a previous conviction.

Deputy District Attorney Patrick Hogan prosecuted this case. Lopez’s battery conviction was considered his second strike under the state’s “Three Strikes” law, which doubled his sentence to six years in prison. Lopez was convicted of robbery in 2010.

Prosecutors said Lopez could have been eligible for a nine-year prison sentence, but a recent change in state law signed by the governor eliminated the judge’s ability to increase Lopez’s sentence for three previous convictions.

On Thursday, Lopez was serving his sentence at North Kern State Prison in Delano.

This story was originally published October 25, 2019 7:27 AM.

Rosalio Ahumada writes news stories about criminal court cases in Stanislaus County for The Modesto Bee, issues related to immigration and immigrant communities and breaking news related to crime and public safety. From time to time, he covers the Modesto City Council meetings. He has worked as a news reporter in the Northern San Joaquin Valley since 2004.
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