Rochester man admits to machete robbery

By Janice Gregorson

A Rochester man who robbed a local gas station just two weeks after being given a chance at probation could end up serving 20 years in prison.

Kenyatta Elwoods, 34, pleaded guilty in Olmsted District Court on Tuesday to one count of first-degree aggravated robbery. He admitted going into the SuperAmerica station on North Broadway early April 9, armed with a machete, and threatening the clerk to open the cash register.

"Give me the money, dude," Elwoods said he told the clerk that morning, while holding the machete close to his leg.


The clerk handed over $120, and Elwoods said he ran out to a waiting vehicle driven by a friend. But his image was captured on the store's surveillance camera, and he was recognized.

Just two weeks earlier, Elwoods was given a chance to be on probation for five years rather than serve a recommended 21-month prison term for stealing $1,200 from his employer. Elwoods told Olmsted District Judge Kevin Lund that he needed the money to buy crack cocaine. Lund granted a defense motion for a lighter sentence.

Now his attorney, Julie Maxwell, says Elwoods could be sent to prison for up to 20 years. She said he has an extensive criminal history, and the latest robbery conviction carries a stiff sentence. The defense will ask for a lighter sentence. Sentencing is set for Sept. 26.

During the plea hearing Tuesday, Elwoods told Judge Jodi Williamson that at the time of the robbery, he was high on crack cocaine and had been drinking. But, he admitted, he knew what he was doing and that it was wrong.

He also said he doubts he ever would have used the machete, even if the clerk had refused to give him money.

"I probably would have just had a dumb look on my face and run out," Elwoods said. Still, he acknowledged, the sight of the machete might have made the clerk fearful.

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