Former students plead guilty to March robbery
Two former UB students pleaded guilty on Monday, Nov. 19 in State Supreme Court for robbing two UB students at gunpoint of money and marijuana in the victims' University Heights home on March 28.
Donovan Haigler, 25, and Lance Minton, Jr., 23 pleaded guilty to two counts of robbery in the first degree and class "B" violent felonies before State Supreme Court Justice Christopher Burns.
Their charges are the highest counts they could have been convicted had they gone to trial. The defendants face anywhere from five years to 25 years in state prison, according to the Erie County District Attorney's Office website.
On the morning of March 28, Haigler and Minton entered the Winspear home, pointed a loaded rifle at the two female student occupants and demanded their marijuana and cash, The Spectrum reported on March 29.
One of the victims told Lieutenant Kevin Will of the University Police Department at the scene that one of the suspects was a former student. Inspector Dan Jay of UPD told The Spectrum in March that both suspects are former UB students.
The District Attorney's website reported the victims recognized that suspect as "Donovan." The victims, with the help of fellow students, searched their Facebook accounts, discovered photographs and names of the assailants and turned over the information to Buffalo Police.
With that knowledge, officers obtained the address 45 Tyler St. and found both suspects inside dressed in pajamas. The suspects were transported to the crime scene and immediately identified by both victims.
One confessed to the home invasion when interrogated by detectives but the other refused to answer any questions, according to the DA's website.
BPD also searched their apartment and Haigler's automobile. The stolen marijuana was recovered inside the apartment, and the gun used in the burglary was in the trunk of the car and loaded with ammunition.
District Attorney Frank Sedita praised the efforts of the patrolmen and detectives and said: "armed with information from the quick-thinking victims, the police immediately apprehended the culprits and secured physical evidence, leaving the defendants with no reasonable alternative but to plead guilty as charged and thrust themselves upon the mercy of the court," according to the DA's website.
Based on experience, Jay suspected the robbery was a target robbery, indicating the suspects knew the girls possessed marijuana and subsequently robbed their house.
Haigler and Minton, who reside in the New York City area, remain free on bail. Burns is scheduled to sentence them on Feb. 13. Burns indicated he will likely sentence them to the statutory minimum of five years in state prison, according to the DA's website.