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Surviving suspect in Waterloo liquor store holdup pleads guilty, sentenced to prison

Surviving suspect in Waterloo liquor store holdup pleads guilty, sentenced to prison

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WATERLOO, Iowa --- Blake Alexander Leflore is headed to prison for up to 10 years for his role in a June 2010 liquor store robbery.

His two accomplices weren't as lucky.

Robert Bolden and Antonio Sproles were shot and killed by a clerk shortly after they entered East Fourth Street Liquor carrying guns.

Leflore, the alleged lookout in the heist, remained outside.

On Thursday, LeFlore, 20, entered an Alford plea to the robbery charges, not admitting guilt but acknowledging he likely would be found guilty if he went to trial.

"If I get found guilty (at trial), way more time in jail," said Leflore, who remained otherwise quiet during the proceeding as family and friends, some in tears, watched.

Under the plea, prosecutors agreed to trade a first-degree robbery charge --- which carries up to 25 years in prison --- if Leflore pleaded to second-degree robbery, which has a 10-year maximum.

He will have to serve at least 70 percent of the sentence --- seven years --- before he is eligible for parole.

"This is not a happy day for anyone. I hope you can come out of this and be able to live your life as a responsible young man," Judge Stephen Clarke told Leflore in handing down the sentence.

As part of the arrangement, a sentence for a misdemeanor criminal mischief case and a probation revocation for a forgery conviction will run concurrent with the robbery time.

East Fourth Street Liquor had already been the scene of a 2009 robbery where a clerk was shot in the arm when Bolden and Sproles, both 21, walked into the store wearing bandanas over their faces and holding a .22-caliber rifle and a .22-caliber handgun.

The lone employee, Johnny Sanders, 65, grabbed a .44-caliber revolver the owner kept in the office and shot the two. They died at the scene.

Officers who were sent to the 2 a.m. shooting found Leflore and another person about a block away. Leflore allegedly told police he was someone else, and officers later realized he used a bogus name.

Assistant County Attorney Joel Dalrymple said a witness, who allegedly tried to talk them out of the robbery, said Leflore was involved in planning the heist, and he was seen with one of the guns that was later recovered at the store.

Railroad workers also reported seeing three people approaching the store shortly before the robbery, Dalrymple said.

Sanders wasn't charged in the case, and police said the shooting appeared to be justified.

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WATERLOO, Iowa --- An East Fourth Street convenience store has been denied permits to sell beer and wine. City Council members voted 4-2 Monday to reject the application from Speedy Mart at 1027 E. Fourth St. because it failed to meet tough alcohol sales use zoning requirements adopted one year ago.

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