Pleas made in restaurant robbery case

ESCANABA — A 22-year-old male from New Mexico — accused of attempting to rob a Mexican restaurant in Escanaba while armed last year — entered pleas in Delta County Circuit Court this morning.

Alejandro Castillo, homeless, was arrested after he attempted to rob the El Patron Mexican Restaurant at 1636 Ludington St. at 11:30 a.m. during business hours on Dec. 19, 2016, according to Escanaba Public Safety.

During a hearing earlier this week, Castillo told the court he was a former employee at the restaurant for three months and was never paid. He said he went into the restaurant looking for a manager to pay him the money he was owed, but that person was not there.

Castillo also admitted in court to damaging items and possessing a club which he said likely frightened employees and customers in the restaurant.

Police said Castillo was wearing a mask and gloves and brandishing a billy club when he entered the restaurant through a back door, damaging property as he made an attempt toward the cash register.

After an employee fought off Castillo, the subject went out the restaurant’s back door where he was apprehended by police, arrested, and lodged in jail.

Police recovered the mask, gloves and club which Castillo had discarded at the scene along with a air-soft pistol he had tucked in his waistband and also discarded.

Following completion of a competency evaluation report in March, Castillo waived his right to a preliminary hearing in district court and was bound over to circuit court last month.

During today’s court hearing, Castillo pleaded guilty but mentally ill to the following three counts: possession of a dangerous weapon, a billy club, a five-year felony; assault with a dangerous weapon (felonious assault), a four-year felony; and malicious destruction of property less than $200, a 93-day misdemeanor.

In exchange for Castillo pleading guilty to the above charges, the prosecution agreed to dismiss one count of assault with intent to commit an armed robbery and one count of attempted larceny in a building.

Castillo is scheduled to be sentenced in circuit court on June 26. He remains lodged in the county jail in lieu of a $500,000 cash/surety bond.