EDINBURG — A man who brandished a BB gun and one who smashed glass cases at a jewelry story in La Plaza Mall last July are heading to prison.
On Monday morning, 430th state District Judge Israel Ramon Jr. sentenced 23-year-old Javier Leobardo Olvera to 12 years in prison and 29-year-old Jorge Angel Mejia to 15 years in prison.
A total of four of seven suspects have now been sentenced in the case that caused panic in McAllen during the summer of 2018 as the men stormed into the Deutsch & Deutsch jewelry store at La Plaza Mall and smashed glass cases with “mini sledge hammers” as they attempted to run off with designer watches worth millions.
When the robbery happened, reports of armed gunmen quickly spread throughout the community and shoppers mistook the sound of glass smashing as gunshots.
Widely circulated video footage of the robbery showed Mejia holding what looked like a handgun as the masked suspects robbed the store.
That weapon turned out to be a BB gun.
The Hidalgo County District Attorney’s Office sought a 22-year sentence for Mejia and a 20-year sentence for Olvera.
Assistant Criminal District Attorney Lauren Sepulveda told Ramon Monday that Olvera was the first to plead guilty in the case and was the most truthful with McAllen police about the robbery.
“You just have some bad acts. You are not an evil person. There are some good qualities you do have,” Ramon told Olvera.
Both men declined to address the court before Ramon handed down their sentences.
The stiffest sentence so far has gone to 24-year-old Brayan Oliver Melchor who received 25 years in prison, partly because he participated in a nearly identical robbery in California in 2015 for which he served time.
Miguel Quintanilla Cardenas, 27, who has also been sentenced in the case, received a 14-year sentence.
Raul Alberto Rangel, 44, and Alberto Rafael Barrera, 33, have both pleaded guilty and are scheduled for sentencing in September.
Only 25-year-old Abner Zepeda Posos has pleaded not guilty. He is scheduled for a trial on the merits next Monday, though a recent court hearing revealed he is considering a plea.
Posos could face a stiff sentence like Melchor, as he was a co-conspirator in the 2015 robbery in California and also served time in prison.