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Kent-Meridian student pleads not guilty to robbery charges

A 15-year-old Kent-Meridian High School student pleaded not guilty Thursday to charges of first-degree robbery and third-degree theft in King County Juvenile Court in Seattle.

Kent Police arrested the boy Sept. 17 for allegedly robbing four 14-year-old male students of their cell phones Sept. 11 at a restaurant parking lot across from the high school after a Saturday night football game.

King County prosecutors charged the boy Sept. 22 with two counts of first-degree robbery and two counts of third-degree theft. The boy reportedly displayed a BB or pellet handgun in order to get two of the phones after demanding and getting the first two phones without showing a gun, according to charging papers.

The boy remained in juvenile custody Thursday in Seattle. He is scheduled to return to court Sept. 30 when a trial date could be set or attorneys from either side could ask for more time to prepare the case.

The boy reportedly displayed a handgun and robbed three Kentwood High students and one Kent-Meridian student of their cell phones at about 11 p.m. Sept. 11 when they stood in the parking lot near McDonald's and Baskin-Robbins along Southeast 256th Street. The stores sits across from Kent-Meridian and French Field, where earlier that night Auburn Riverside and Kent-Meridian had played a football game.

The first two boys gave up their phones after the boy asked for them. The third boy initially refused to give up his phone. That is when the boy reportedly removed a handgun from his waistband and pointed it at the ground. The third and fourth boys then gave up their phones and the four watched the boy walk away with the phones.

Several days after the incident, a Kentwood student informed school security that a Kent-Meridian student had been bragging to other students that he was the person who robbed the four kids at the McDonald's on Sept. 11.

Detectives also used videos from the restaurant and nearby 76 service station to help identify the boy, who was wearing a red baseball hat, red sweatshirt, jeans and red and white shoes. Police said the boy's outfit made it easier to pick him out on the video despite the presence of more than 50 students.

The student turned himself in Sept. 17 to a Kent Police officer who works at Kent-Meridian as a school resource officer after word spread that detectives were looking for the boy.

The boy admitted to police that he robbed the boys and did not pull out the BB gun until the third student refused to give up his cell phone, according to charging papers. He said he intended to sell the phones to make money and that he was sorry for what he did.

He told detectives the handgun was a BB gun that looked like a "baby 9," which is a reference to a 9-mm handgun.

Police do not have the gun allegedly used during the incident, said Kent Police spokesman Pat Lowery. The boy told police that he no longer had the gun. Lowery said BB handguns look similar to handguns that shoot bullets and even a trained officer has a difficult time telling the difference.

Kent Police have increased patrols on the weekends near Kent-Meridian as well as along Kent-Kangley Road on the East Hill in an effort to provide better protection of residents, Lowery said.

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