May 17, 2002
Section: Regional
Edition: Schenectady Albany; Final
Page: B-14

Schoharie County jury acquits robbery suspect


Gazette Reporter

SCHOHARIE - An Otsego County man who was facing life in prison was acquitted of first-degree robbery following a three-week trial in Schoharie County Court. A jury on Wednesday acquitted Jeffrey A. Loucks, 43, of Cherry Valley, one of two men arrested after the shotgun holdup last summer of the McDonald's restaurant in the village of Cobleskill. In April, Loucks' co-defendant, Ryan A. Williams, 22, of Cobleskill, was allowed to plead guilty to third-degree robbery, a class D felony, on the condition that he would testify at Loucks' trial. Loucks, who was on parole following prison time on a murder charge, told the jury Williams had tried to frame him. During closing arguments, Schoharie County District Attorney Jim Sacket said Williams was "not the sharpest pencil in the box," and he told the jury Williams could not have planned the heist. "I submit to you, it's beyond his ability," Sacket told the jury. But Albany attorney Randall Kehoe, who defended Loucks, said Thursday that Williams lied to the grand jury and during the trial. Kehoe said DNA evidence proved he was lying. Williams, who Loucks said was nicknamed "Remington" at his job because of his penchant for weapons, told the grand jury that he never owned, wore or saw the turkey hat with netting that was worn during the robbery. But an analysis of the hat by a forensic scientist revealed that Williams' DNA was on the hat, according to Kehoe. Kehoe said Williams also changed his story several times during the proceedings. "He gave seven different versions," Kehoe said. Sacket could not be reached for comment Thursday. Williams is expected to be sentenced to a six-month jail term with five years' probation, depending on the outcome of a presentence investigation. Because he was on parole after serving prison time for murder, Loucks faced life in prison had he been convicted of the robbery charge. Loucks and Williams were arrested the day after the July 11 holdup of the Main Street fast-food restaurant. Prosecutors contended Loucks was the mastermind of the plan and that he wore camouflage and a turkey-hunting hat with netting when he entered the restaurant, forced employees to the back for money in the safe and fled with about $1,200 in cash. Loucks testified that his vehicle was taken by Williams before the 10 p.m. robbery after Williams had a fight with his girlfriend. Loucks said he was at Williams' apartment because he had been giving him a ride to work at Guilford Mills. He said when Williams returned later, he asked to go back out for a ride because he remained upset. While in the vehicle, Loucks said, Williams told him he "did the McDonald's." Loucks said he also overheard Williams tell his girlfriend to remember that the couple never saw Loucks that night.

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