Friday, 09 December 2022

Man convicted of robbing elderly couple

LAKEPORT – On Tuesday a jury convicted a Clearlake man who, along with another man, was accused of the robbery last year of an elderly couple.


A report from Chief Deputy District Attorney Richard Hinchcliff said a jury on Tuesday found Craig Alvin Lemke, 45, guilty of the home invasion robbery, which took place in February 2006.


Hinchcliff prosecuted Lemke, whose trial began Sept. 12 in Judge Stephen O. Hedstrom's Department 4 courtroom.


Lemke was defended by attorney Jason Webster. Webster did not return a call placed to his office Wednesday.


According to Hinchcliff's report, at just after 8 p.m. Feb. 12, 2006, Lemke and Joe Moncivaiz Jr. went to the home of the elderly couple, who Lemke had previously known and with whom he had work-related contacts.

 

The men parked their vehicle three-tenths of a mile down the road from the victim’s residence, which Hinchcliff said was located on Highway 29 just south of Lower Lake.


According to testimony at trial, Lemke and Moncivaiz checked the location of the couple inside the residence through uncovered windows after dark, then approached the front door, knocked on it, and told the male victim they had run out of gas. The male victim was 89 years old and the female victim 70 years old, Hinchcliff reported.


When the male victim opened the door, Lemke pushed him onto the floor and bound his hands and feet with electrical tape, according to Hinchcliff's report. When the female victim came out of her bedroom to investigate the noise, she was tied up with zip ties and electrical tape. Both Lemke and Moncivaiz were wearing coverings on their faces and gloves to avoid identification and leaving fingerprints. Lemke was wearing a Halloween skeleton mask.


After ransacking the residence for about 15 minutes, the men fled with several guns, a large amount of ammunition, $2,100 in cash and other items, Hinchcliff reported.


Once they reached Highway 29 in front of the residence, they realized they could not carry the stolen property down Highway 29 to their car for fear of being seen by passing cars, and stashed the stolen items, Hinchcliff said.


While they were making their way back to the car, the male victim freed himself and called 911. Hinchcliff explained that before Lemke and Moncivaiz could return to retrieve the stolen property they had stashed, they realized their car would not start and heard approaching sirens of Lake County Sheriff’s deputies.


They fled into the surrounding hills until deputies left the area two hours later, then called a friend for a ride and returned home, said Hinchcliff. Meanwhile, the stolen property was found by sheriff’s deputies and returned to the victims.


The jury deliberated for two hours before returning with guilty verdicts on all charges, including two counts of first degree robbery, first degree burglary, elder theft, two counts of false imprisonment of an elderly person and grand theft of firearms, Hinchcliff reported.

 

In addition, several special allegations charged were submitted to Judge Hedstrom for a court trial after the jury convicted Lemke of the crimes charged, said Hinchcliff. Special allegations including two prior “strikes,” three prior prison terms, committing a felony while released on own recognizance and crimes against elders were found to be true.


Lemke had prior felony convictions and prison sentences between 1986 and 1995 for possession of a sawed off shotgun, transportation of methamphetamine, robbery, burglary and threatening a witness, said Hinchcliff.


When he is sentenced on Oct. 25, Lemke could face a maximum of 76 years to life in prison, according to Hinchcliff.


Hinchcliff added that Lemke's accomplice, Moncivaiz, previously admitted his participation and pleaded guilty to first degree burglary.

 

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