Suspect in home invasion robbery, shootout enters guilty plea
A second person charged in connection to a 2009 home invasion robbery that led to a shootout with police at a local eatery has entered a guilty plea.
Patrick Rhodes Nelson, 19, of 2160 Clubhouse Road, North Fort Myers, pleaded guilty Thursday to one count of first-degree burglary while armed possessing a firearm in an agreement with the State Attorney’s Office.
“As part of the plea agreement, we dropped three charges,” Samantha Syoen, spokeswoman for the state, said.
The charges were second-degree felony murder, attempted home invasion robbery possessing a firearm and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon possessing a firearm.
Nelson and three others are accused of breaking into a Cape Coral home in December 2009, then getting into a shootout with officers at the Steak ‘n Shake on Pine Island Road East when police attempted to stop their vehicle.
Officers fatally shot Tyson Lee Richardson, 21, of Lehigh Acres.
The surviving three were charged with murder in his death.
On Thursday, Nelson was sentenced to 10 years in prison, followed by five years of probation. He faces life in prison if he violates his probation.
Syoen said the state worked with Nelson’s defense team, the Cape Coral police, the robbery victims and the officers involved in the shooting.
“Everyone agreed with the plea agreement,” she said.
Assistant State Attorney Marie Doerr handled the case.
Defense attorney David Brener represented Nelson.
“It had always been our position that the homicide charge should not have been brought against Mr. Nelson, despite the instance of the felony murder rule,” he said Thursday.
Brener said his client did not go into the residence during the robbery and Nelson exited the vehicle, as the officers instructed, prior to the shootout.
“My client was spread-eagle on the ground,” he said.
Brener argued that the felony murder rule would not have applied because Nelson was not trying to escape when Richardson was shot, as evidenced by the fact that he was responding to officers’ orders and lying on the ground.
“The only way to really litigate that would be in a jury trial,” he said.
If the defense had taken it to trial, Nelson would have been facing life sentences for the felony murder and armed burglary, plus 30 years on the home invasion robbery and another 15 years for the aggravated battery.
“Even if we had won the homicide (charge), and I was reasonably optimistic that we would, he still would have received life in prison on the other charges,” Brener said.
In July, Jarrett Delshun Mundle, 21, of 2729 Colonial Blvd., Apt. 206, Fort Myers, was found guilty by a jury. Jurors found him guilty of burglary while armed possessing a firearm, attempted home invasion robbery possessing a firearm and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon possessing a firearm.
The jury found Mundle not guilty of the felony murder.
It was unknown Thursday if a sentencing date had been set.
Brener said his client is not required to testify against his friends.
“I consider this a very good resolution for Mr. Nelson,” he said. “He’s still a relatively young man, and hopefully he will learn from his mistakes.”
On Dec. 20, 2009, police received 911 calls from a residence in the 700 block of Northeast 15th Terrace that three or four people had entered the home wearing masks. One victim was struck in the head, and the intruders fired at least one round before fleeing, according to documents.
Responding officers observed a car fail to stop at a red light to turn right and they followed the vehicle. Police then tried to conduct a traffic stop on the vehicle in the Steak ‘n Shake parking lot, and the shootout between the the vehicle’s occupants and officers ensued.
Mundle and Mike Borrell, 28, of 3463 C St., Apt. 815, Fort Myers, each sustained one non-life threatening gunshot wound. Nelson was not injured.
A fifth person, Christopher Maurice Williams, 24, of Lehigh Acres, was later charged after police reportedly found that he had been actively involved with the planning and execution of the home invasion that ended in the shootout.
Williams and Borrell are facing the same four charges as the others did.
They both have court appearances scheduled for Aug. 9.