Sawed-off shotgun bandit rejects plea offer - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Localnews

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Sawed-off shotgun bandit rejects plea offer

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Posted: Friday, December 11, 2009 12:00 am

Henry Diaz Jr. has rejected a plea offer that would have sent the Ahwatukee Foothills man to prison for between 18 and 21 months.

Instead, he apparently prefers to face a jury and stand trial for seven counts of armed robbery and seven counts of kidnapping, which if convicted, would results in a minimum seven-year sentence for each count.

“Mr. Diaz just doesn’t want to do (the plea),” his attorney, Rebecca Potter, told Superior Court Judge Robert Gottsfield on Tuesday.

Phoenix police say that Diaz, 29, is the man responsible for a series of armed robberies of small businesses, mostly in Ahwatukee Foothills, in September and October of 2008.

A sawed-off shotgun was his signature trademark in the series of robberies.

No one was injured in the robberies, but police became increasingly concerned at the possibility that a clerk could be hurt.

When police arrested Diaz a year ago he was about to re-enter Bashas’ at 48th Street and Warner Road, armed with a sawed-off shotgun.

His arrest ended the string of robberies that had clerks at local sandwich and convenience stores on edge.

According to police and witnesses, Diaz, dressed in all black, would enter a business wearing a beanie and sunglasses. He would then pull the sawed-off shotgun out of his pants, take the cash, and escape. In a few instances, startled clerks ran at the sight of the shotgun, leaving the would-be robber alone in a business but empty-handed.

Four different Quizno’s shops were robbed, along with a Subway, Papa John’s, Circle K and two other businesses.

A break in the case came when the Phoenix Police Department’s local Neighborhood Enforcement Team zeroed in on the string of robberies and, using surveillance footage from nearby businesses, eventually found what they determined was the getaway vehicle that they linked to Diaz.

Using that information they tracked Diaz to his apartment near Warner Road and 48th Street and had him under surveillance when they watched him walk into Bashas’, look around, then return to his car to pick up some items.

As he was returning to the supermarket, officers took him into custody.

A status conference is set for Jan. 21, where Gottsfield is scheduled to set a trial date.

Diaz remains in custody in the Maricopa County jail system.

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