Erie County District Attorney Frank A. Sedita, III announced that 25 year old Donovan Haigler and 23 year old Lance Minton, Jr. pleaded guilty, as charged, to two counts of Robbery in the 1st Degree, class “B” violent felonies, before State Supreme Court Justice Christopher Burns. These are the highest counts for which the defendants could have been convicted had they gone to trial.
On March 28, 2012, Haigler and Minton entered the Winspear Ave. apartment of two female University of Buffalo Students. Once inside, they robbed the victims, at gunpoint, of money and marijuana, and fled. The victims called 911 as well as several of fellow students because one of the assailants looked familiar to them. Based upon their descriptions, the victims learned that the first name of one of the assailants was “Donovan.” The victims and their fellow students searched their Facebook accounts and discovered the photographs and names of the assailants. This information was promptly turned over to responding officers from the Buffalo Police Department.
The police quickly determined that Haigler and Donovan were together at 45 Tyler St. in the city of Buffalo. Patrol officers went to that address and found both Haigler and Donovan inside, dressed in pajamas. Both assailants were transported to the crime scene and were immediately identified by both victims. Interrogated by detectives, Haigler confessed to the home invasion, while Donovan refused to answer any questions. The police also conducted a search of the apartment at 45 Tyler St. and a search of an automobile registered to Haigler’s “fiancée,” which was parked in front of 45 Tyler St. The stolen marijuana was recovered inside the apartment, while the gun used in the home invasion was recovered from the trunk of the automobile, loaded with ammunition.
DA Sedita praised the efforts of the patrolmen and detectives, stating: “armed with information from the quick-thinking victims, the police immediately apprehended the culprits and secured physical evidence, leaving the defendants with no reasonable alternative but to plead guilty as charged and thrust themselves upon the mercy of the court.” University at Buffalo police also provided assistance to the Buffalo Police which proved crucial in locating the defendants.
Robbery in the 1st Degree carries a maximum sentence of 25 years in state prison. Although the District Attorney’s Office recommended that the defendants be remanded into custody pending their sentence, both Haigler and Donovan (who reside in the New York City area) were allowed to remain free on bail by Justice Burns, who also has indicated that he will likely impose the statutory minimum of 5 years in state prison.
Sentencing is scheduled for February 13, 2013 at 9:30 AM.