◼ Stanko pleads in Pease's murder; Eureka man to be sentenced to 26 years to life in prison in plea deal
On the eve of trial, James Robert Stanko pleaded guilty Tuesday to a charge of murder in an agreement that will see him sentenced to 26 years to life in state prison for his role in the Feb. 6, 2009, stabbing death of Andrew Pease.
With jury selection slated to begin Wednesday in his trial, Stanko entered into a plea agreement with the Humboldt County District Attorney's Office on Tuesday in which he agreed to plead guilty to charges of murder, armed robbery and attempted armed robbery with a total prison term of 26 years to life, according to court minutes obtained from Humboldt County court records.
As a part of the plea, Stanko waived all rights to appeal, according to the minutes.
Deputy District Attorney Allan Dollison declined to comment on the plea agreement Wednesday, citing a gag order that has been in place in the case since February 2009 and prohibits members of law enforcement, attorneys and court employees from discussing the case publicly. Stanko's attorney, public defender Kevin Robinson, did not return a Times-Standard phone call seeking comment.
Stanko, 28, and James Robert Way, 31, both of Eureka, were on an armed robbery spree through the city on Feb. 6, 2009, having committed six in less than an hour, before they arrived in the parking lot of Ray's Food Place on Broadway. There, they attempted to rob Pease, a 36-year-old Army veteran and father of two, who was working with a developmentally disabled teen at the time. The details of the altercation remain unclear, but Pease was reportedly stabbed 13 times and died within minutes as Way and Stanko fled the scene....
Way pleaded guilty in March to charges of voluntary manslaughter, armed robbery and attempted armed robbery. He was sentenced to serve 18 years, four months in prison.
Stanko, who police have fingered as the one who stabbed Pease, seemed poised to stand trial until entering into the plea agreement Wednesday....
IN PRIOR COVERAGE it was noted that:
Because Way and Stanko are alleged to have committed murder in the course of a felony -- in this case an attempted robbery -- District Attorney Paul Gallegos said his office could choose to seek the death penalty in the case, but has yet to make that decision.
I guess he made a decision.