Waiting game for robbery suspect

By Mark Godi

Tarcelo Rojas Ybiernas went before a judge Tuesday and will be back in the courthouse on March 15.

The 33-year-old Stockton man was arrested last Saturday as a suspect in seven counts of second-degree robbery. He was at the San Joaquin County Courthouse for arraignment Tuesday. Ybiernas appeared before judge Franklin M. Stephenson who gave him until the 15th to meet with public defender John Panerio to formulate a strategy.

“At this point, you all know the same amount that I know,” Panerio said. “We have to look over everything go from there. This is just the beginning.”

Ybiernas is believed by the district attorney’s office to have robbed a series of convenience stores and pizza parlors with a firearm throughout January and February. He is being held at the San Joaquin County Jail on $2 million bail.

Video from a robbery at an undisclosed liquor store February 10 was released to news outlets. The footage ran on local news stations asking for people to call police if they have any information on the suspect. An anonymous tip led to the arrest of Ybiernas without incident at his home on the 2300 block of Scribner Street.

Panerio met with a woman for several minutes after the hearing, before the women spoke briefly and identified herself as Ybiernas’ mother. She declined to give her name and did not hint at what kind of plea Ybiernas might enter.

“(Ybiernas) has gone down the wrong path,” the Ybiernas mother said. “He has some problems and I wish I could help him. He’s not right in the head.”

Making matters worse for Ybiernas is the clarity of the surveillance tape. The suspect, allegedly Ybiernas, is standing at the Quickstop counter directly in front of the camera when he pulls a gun from his pants. An employee at the Quickstop Tuesday said he was not the one working during the robbery and declined to comment further.

Ybiernas was among eight different detainees who went before Stephenson in the hearing and seldom made eye contact with anyone. He hunched over with his head down and a solemn look on his face. When Stephenson asked if Ybiernas understood the charges against him, he whispered “yes.” Stephenson had to prompt him to speak up before Ybiernas finally raised his head.

“The only thing we can do for (Ybiernas) now is pray for him,” his mother said. “Just that and wait.”

JRN 600 Assignment 1: Cover a crime story at the local courthouse or police station in 400 words. Include an audio and visual element.

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