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Teen gets jail time for armed robbery near Wesco

Becky Vargo • Jul 10, 2017 at 7:34 PM

A Grand Haven teen will spend 90 days in jail for his part in an armed robbery that occurred inside a car in the parking lot of a Grand Haven Township gas station late last year.

Joshua Ross Smelker, 17, was ordered to serve 90 days in jail when sentenced Monday in Ottawa County Circuit Court. He was given credit for one day already served in jail. Work release is not allowed.

Smelker was also ordered to pay a $250 fine and will be on probation for three years once he gets out of jail.

Judge Jon Hulsing credited Smelker for the hard work that he’s been doing since his arrest. The teen has attended counseling, reconnected with family, done better at school and has a job, the judge said.

Still, Hulsing emphasized that it’s important to behave while on probation and that it is probably best that he doesn’t hang around with his old buddies.

Smelker and two other teens were involved in three events over a 24-hour period that ended with an armed robbery on Dec. 9, 2016. These events were not a mistake, Hulsing said.

“It was a deliberate abandonment of all values,” the judge said. “This was an armed robbery. There needs to be concrete sanctions.”

The three teens set out Dec. 8 to get money allegedly owed to them by the victim. When he wasn’t home, they took a live rabbit and a PlayStation from his house, according to testimony from an earlier hearing.

The next day, the three teens arranged a drug purchase with the intent to rob the victim, according to Ray Purdy, attorney for one of the other defendants, Marlon Sutton-Kelly. That occurred in the parking lot of the Wesco gas station, 14759 Mercury Drive.

Ottawa County Sheriff’s deputies responded to the gas station that night after the victim called for help. An alert was sent out for the suspect vehicle.

The vehicle was located on Lakeshore Drive by a Grand Haven public safety officer responding to the alert. One person exited the vehicle and ran, and was eventually tracked down by Grand Haven officers with the help of K-9 Max. A short time later, deputies stopped the vehicle and arrested the two occupants.

Police discovered an Airsoft gun in the vehicle. Purdy said the original armed robbery charge was dismissed because of the type of gun.

 

Sutton-Kelly’s attorney said that his client “acted out of a misguided sense of loyalty to the guy in the front seat.” Sutton-Kelly had no prior criminal record, Purdy said.

The 19-year-old Norton Shores man was sentenced in April to 180 days in jail. He received an early release by working to earn days off his sentence.

The third defendant is a juvenile.

 

Smelker was set to go to trial in May on charges of armed robbery, conspiracy, home invasion second degree and two counts of assault with intent to rob while unarmed. In a plea agreement in late May, Smelker pleaded no contest to the home invasion and assault with intent charges. In exchange, the armed robbery and conspiracy charges were dismissed.

 

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