CASPER, Wyo. — A Casper man charged as an accomplice in the Moonlight Liquors robbery now faces the possibility of spending the remainder of his life behind bars.
Prosecutors revealed in court Wednesday that they will seek to convict Pete Joe White as a habitual criminal. That designation brings with it a mandatory life sentence.
Natrona County District Attorney Michael Blonigen called White a career criminal who helped the Moonlight robbers while already on probation. He described the defendant as a “known gangbanger.”
The comments came during White’s arraignment in Natrona County District Court on charges of conspiracy and aiding and abetting armed robbery. He pleaded not guilty.
Blonigen said the 30-year-old had already been convicted of three felonies. He did not offer any details during the proceeding, but newly filed court papers indicate White has been convicted of engaging in organized criminal activities, grand larceny and being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Officers arrested White a little more than a week after two armed men robbed Moonlight Liquors and Lounge. Police allege he helped the suspects plan the robbery, provided them with clothing and a gun, and allowed them into his home after the crime.
White spoke only to enter his not guilty pleas and answer procedural questions from Judge David Park.
Defense attorney Curtis Cheney unsuccessfully sought a reduction in his client’s $100,000 bond. White, he reasoned, was already receiving government supervision while on probation in a federal matter and on parole for a state case. Blonigen responded by going through the defendant’s alleged gang ties and criminal history. Park interrupted Blonigen after a few minutes.
“Let me save you some time,” the judge said, before announcing he wouldn’t lower the bond.
Speaking after the hearing, Blonigen said the other two defendants in the case would not face habitual criminal charges. His office has charged Arthur Brown and Shannon Mares with carrying out the April 14 robbery.
Police say Brown and Mares entered the liquor store and bar about 1 a.m. Brown allegedly pointed a pistol at the clerk and forced two customers to lie on the ground. Mares stood by the door with a stick, which he pointed at a customer who approached the store in a car.
The pair made off with an undisclosed amount of money and ran behind some nearby apartments, according to police.
Sometime after the robbery, a Moonlight clerk mistakenly received a package that was intended for White’s home, according to a detective’s testimony at an earlier court hearing. The business and White’s apartment share the same address number, but are on different streets.
The clerk, who’d been present at the robbery, brought the package to White. The defendant allegedly asked whether police had any suspects, even though the incident hadn’t yet been reported in the media. The worker also felt White was trying to show he had nothing to do with the robbery.
White remains held at Natrona County Detention Center.