Clothing store thief facing life in prison

CARLSBAD — A clothing store manager testified April 29 about a robbery that could land a convicted felon in prison for life. Yvette Slattery, a manager at The Gap located in Carlsbad Premium Outlets, said it was the type of moment that plays back like a video in her mind even though it happened more than a year ago. Slattery’s testimony came on the opening day of 50-year-old Rodney Riggins’ trial relating to an April 15, 2009, armed robbery at the outlet center on Paseo Del Norte. She said it’s a rare occurrence when someone holds up the store for merchandise. A robbery conviction in this case would be Riggins’ third strike under California’s three strikes law and could result in a sentence of 25 years to life in prison. In addition to that charge, he also faces three felony theft charges. Shortly after Riggins entered the store carrying a black duffel bag and two Adidas shopping bags, Slattery testified she sensed he might be up to something. Not long after, she said she noticed loss prevention officer Terrance Wilkerson in the store and became even more alert about the defendant’s actions. Slattery testified she saw Riggins pull a box cutter on Wilkerson as he contacted the defendant just outside of the store. She said the defendant brandished the box cutter, which is a razor blade stored in a plastic or metal handle, in a “menacing” fashion. Slattery said the blade was out and it was “obvious” that the defendant was threatening Wilkerson with the box cutter. Riggins then fled the scene. Authorities arrested him in an auto dealership parking lot a short distance away from the outlet mall. Carlsbad police Officer Parra Domingo testified he found 14 pairs of Gap jeans as well as a box cutter and the defendant’s bus pass in a black duffle bag located a short distance from where Riggins was arrested. Both Domingo and Slattery identified the defendant in court. Domingo added that Riggins was wearing yellowish orange cowboy boots at the time of his apprehension. According to court records, Riggins is a career criminal picking up his first strike in 1991 for a holdup out of Santa Clara County. By the time 1998 ended, the defendant added another robbery and burglary conviction to his record as well as a second strike. Riggins remains in custody on $95,000 bail.


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