By Dan Nienaber
---- — MANKATO — An 18-year-old Albert Lea man who was arrested with three other teens for robbing two college students at gunpoint in Mankato in January was released from jail Monday after being sentenced to time served.
Emmanuel Dak Wal pleaded guilty to a felony charge of aggravated robbery in May. He was with a group of teens who robbed two Minnesota State University students during the early morning hours of Jan. 27.
The victims reported two males approached them while they were walking home and asked to use a cellphone. One of the males then pulled out a short-barreled shotgun, demanded their phones and wallets, and ordered them to the ground. The man with the gun fired it as the two males ran to a waiting car, the victims told police.
Investigators were able to track down Wal and the other suspects, Lojock Dech Jiokthiang, 16, of Mankato; Savanax Tommy Sdoeung, 17, of Mankato; and Nhiam Ngut, 17, of Albert Lea. They had used credit cards from the stolen wallets to buy gas and make two trips to a Mankato McDonald's restaurant. Surveillance video at the restaurant recorded the license plate of their car.
Jiokthiang was the first arrested because the owner of the car told police she let him use it. He told police Wal and Ngut robbed the students while he and Sdoeung waited in the car.
Ngut denied being with the others when they left a party with a plan to rob someone. He told police he heard Sdoeung say he planned to "hit a stain" before leaving the party with the two others. Hitting a stain is slang for a drug robbery, the criminal complaints said.
During Wal's sentencing hearing Monday, District Court Judge Bradley Walker said he decided not to follow sentencing guidelines that recommended prison time. Walker said Wal's age and the fact he took responsibility for the crime early on were reasons for the downward departure.
Wal was given sentenced to the 146 days he's served in jail since his arrest, ordered to pay a $1,000 fine and $149 in restitution.
Ngut pleaded guilty to aiding an offender after the fact in juvenile court in March. He is schedule to be sentenced in Freeborn County juvenile court Friday. The two Mankato teens received four years of probation after pleading guilty to robbery.