"A snatch and grab."
That's how defendant Glenn C. Pratt II described the purse-snatching crime he committed Jan. 17.
"I thought it was going to be a quick thing. I thought it was going to be a snatch and grab," he said Thursday in court.
Pratt told Huron County Common Pleas Judge Jim Conway he was surprised how strong the 63-year-old female victim was.
"I admit I tried to grab the purse," said the defendant, who was homeless and destitute at the time.
Pratt, 31, of Vermilion, pleaded guilty to robbery Thursday morning.
As part of a plea deal, Huron County Prosecutor Russell Leffler agreed to dismiss one count of tampering with evidence. That felony relates to Pratt ditching the purse as he ran from the crime scene and was pursued by Advanced Computer Connections (aka ACC Norwalk) and Columbia Gas employees.
"(That) showed a lot of good things about our community," Leffler said.
Following a joint recommendation by Leffler and Huron County Public Defender David Longo, the judge sentenced Pratt to two years in prison Thursday. He will serve the time consecutive to a 17-month Erie County sentence for domestic violence.
"Mr. Pratt has some history of violence in his life," said Leffler, who mentioned charges of aggravated assault, felonious assault and domestic violence. "I don't know what the animal cruelty (case) was about."
Pratt has been diagnosed with having bipolar disorder.
"Ever since (age) 18, I've been in and out of psychiatric hospitals," Pratt told the judge.
Two witnesses saw Pratt commit the robbery.
The man who called 9-1-1 was taking his groceries to his car when he saw Pratt acting suspiciously at Schild's IGA.
Crystal Jackson, a stylist with Tammy's Salon of Style, was inside the business across the street about the same time. Jackson has said she believed Pratt was going to rob the woman "because he looked like he was really nervous about something."
The victim was heading to the Schild's deli.
"The defendant banged into her to knock her off balance. She called it hitting him," Leffler said. "She does not claim he hurt her in anyway."
After Pratt pulled the purse off the woman's shoulder, "she yelled," the prosecutor said.
Jackson saw Pratt run between the salon and Pizza Brothers. She then saw him stop near the building that houses ACC Norwalk and Columbia Gas.
"He was trying to dump the purse at the time," the witness told the Reflector earlier. "I don't think he expected to see me to show up again. ... At that point it was (a) foot race."
Sean Steffanni, of ACC Norwalk, was in his office when he heard Jackson yelling to several nearby Columbia Gas employees about the robbery. After he saw three men and Jackson chasing Pratt, Steffanni joined the pursuit.
"I saw him and took off. ... I was the one who caught up with him," said Steffanni, who got in front of Pratt and cut him off in the VFW parking lot.
"I asked him for the wallet. I told him he needed to give it to me. He hesitated, but then he did (give it to me)," Steffanni said.
The witness retrieved the purse, which Pratt dropped about 20 yards away. Steffanni gave the purse and the wallet to Jackson, who returned them to the victim, who was waiting at the salon.
After catching his breath, Pratt ran again. He eventually surrendered to Norwalk Police Capt. Mike Conney, who pulled up in his cruiser just as the defendant was running away from the VFW.
"I am deeply sorry. I was in a bad predicament in my life," Pratt said in court.
"I wish (the victim) was here so I could apologize."