Tuesday, March 5, 2013 • Armed robbery suspect convicted

Publisher’s note: This story is reprinted from the Tuesday, March 5, 2013 edition of the Lassen County Times.

A Susanville man has been found guilty of second-degree robbery and second degree burglary after evidence was presented during a jury trial held Feb. 20 and 21.

Paul Carter Bauer was arrested Nov. 24, 2012,  in connection to an armed robbery at the Beacon gas station that occurred at approximately 2:55 a.m. Nov. 22, Thanksgiving morning. He was 18 years old at the time.

According to Lassen County District Attorney Bob Burns, the jury did not find him guilty of grand theft and that he took money exceeding $950 but did find him guilty on a misdemeanor charge of petty theft. The jury also found Bauer guilty on an allegation that a deadly weapon, a baseball bat, was used during the crime.

Bauer is scheduled to be sentenced at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 9.

Burns said the maximum sentence Bauer could receive is six years and eight months in state prison.

Patrick Donald McKee, 27, was later arrested in connection to the case, and is being charged with second degree robbery, second degree burglary, unlawfully taking the property of another and special allegations that he allegedly used a shotgun and intentionally and personally discharged a firearm during the crime.

In a separate case, he is also being charged with failing to register as a sex offender.

During Bauer’s trial, jurors heard testimony from Aman Singh, the graveyard clerk who was working when the robbery occurred. They also heard testimony from SPD officer Nathan Horton, who was the first to arrive on scene, and then officer Mike Bollinger, who was assigned to follow-up on the case.

Rita Faulner, who Bauer and his girlfriend were staying with at the time of the alleged crime, was the witness for the defense.

 Jurors watched video surveillance, which shows two subjects running into the gas station at approximately 2:55 a.m. No sound is heard, but McKee is allegedly holding the gun, later described as a 12-gauge shotgun, and points it at Singh.

Singh moves to the cash register, and it appears McKee points the gun to the side and allegedly fires a shot. Singh then puts his hands in the air, then starts taking money out of the register.

Bauer, holding what appears to be a bat, moves toward the door.

The suspects leave at 2:57 a.m. and run toward the north alleyway on Weatherlow Street. Both were seen wearing dark clothes, hoods and had their faces covered.

During opening statements, Burns said the jury would see Bauer as the backup man, the lookout.

William Ballew, who represented Bauer, said he would present evidence showing Bauer was not at the gas station, but at the home of Faulner, because he was an “18-year-old homeless man.”

If the jury decided the subject was Bauer, Ballew said they would notice he was looking down and backs up to the door, because he was trying to divorce himself from what was going on and was not in a place a lookout would be.

Singh, whose native language is Punjabi, and used an interpreter during court, said he was working the graveyard shift from 8 p.m. to 7 a.m.

He said he was sitting by the heater, off to the side of the cash register when the two men came in.

One of the men pointed a gun at him and put a plastic bag on the counter. Singh said he got up from where he was sitting and moved toward them.

McKee allegedly said, “Do you think I’m joking,” pointed the gun away and fired a shot.

At that point, Singh said he raised his hands and told them not to fire and started putting money from the cash register into the bag. He didn’t recall how much money, but whatever was in the register, except for a $100 bill that was off to the side.

The gunman then requested cigarettes and tobacco also be placed into the bag, according to Singh. Afterward the gunman grabbed it and both suspects ran off.

Singh said he called the police right away.

Due to the armed robbery, Singh said he has not worked since the end of November and spends most of his time in a Sikh temple.

Bauer was arrested after officers followed up on information they had heard and conducted some interviews.  He also had a misdemeanor warrant for his arrest for allegedly contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

An audio recording of an interview with Bollinger and Bauer at the SPD was also played. At first, Bauer said he didn’t know what Bollinger was talking about and is heard changing his story several times about his alleged connection to the case.

Burns said Bauer eventually did admit to being in the gas station when the crime occurred.

As the interview came to an end, Bollinger suggested Bauer write an apology letter to the gas station and that letter was also presented as evidence.

In his letter, Bauer said he didn’t know his “Wanna-be homeboy” was going to pull that (expletive) and thought he was going to get some cigarettes, but he thought wrong. He wrote his friend woke him up from a dead sleep and told him they were going to take care of some business.

During her testimony, Faulner said she, Bauer and his girlfriend were sitting around and watching television. She said she went to bed around 8 or 9 p.m. and Bauer and his girlfriend went to bed on the couch.

Sometime during the night, she said Bauer’s girlfriend woke her up asking for medicine because Bauer had a headache. She said she saw him on the couch, and he said his head hurt.

She described her trailer as 35 feet in length. During cross examination it was revealed the bedroom was on one end, the living room on the other with the kitchen in the middle and the door to the home in the living room.

Faulner said she would have heard someone come or go from the trailer. However, during cross examination, she said she did not know if Bauer got up and left.