AUBURN, Maine — A Mechanic Falls man who snatched a woman’s purse then held police at bay for four hours at Shaw’s Plaza parking lot during rush hour pleaded guilty Thursday to related charges.
Randolph Nutter, 46, appeared in Androscoggin County Superior Court where he admitted to robbery, theft and burglary charges, waiving his right to a trial.
Nutter, who police said was addicted to prescription painkillers, hopes to be admitted to a drug court program. If he’s accepted, his sentence would be postponed until after he completes that program — or is expelled.
His attorney, Verne Paradie, said Thursday that Nutter hopes to serve only the jail time he has accrued since his November arrest. If he were to fail drug court, he would be expected to serve four years of a seven-year sentence, plus probation.
If Nutter is not accepted into the drug court program, a judge is expected to sentence him up to four years of a seven-year sentence. In that case, Nutter would be expected to argue for a shorter period of time behind bars.
On Thursday, Nutter pleaded guilty to theft, a Class E misdemeanor, punishable by up to 6 months in jail and to robbery and burglary, both Class B felonies, each punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
The burglary, in which he stole a 40-inch TV and PlayStation game system from a home in October, is unrelated to the November standoff. The items were later recovered from a Lewiston pawn shop.
Deputy District Attorney Andrew Robinson said Nutter stole a pocketbook from a 68-year-old woman in the parking lot at Walmart while she was holding her groceries. He ran to his silver Jeep SUV as she pursued him, shouting for help before she fell.
A witness who also chased after Nutter said he pointed a handgun (which turned out to be a pellet gun) at her. Several other witnesses saw Nutter fleeing the scene and were able to describe him, Robinson said.
A short time later, Nutter’s vehicle was spotted heading toward Shaw’s Plaza. He parked in a space close to Auburn Mall. Both the mall and Shaw’s supermarket were then closed and evacuated. Police cordoned off the area and closed a portion of Center Street, also halting traffic on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Bridge at rush hour, Robinson said.
After Nutter surrendered, police found $6 in cash from the stolen purse, which was recovered from his vehicle.
He also had told a friend that he had stolen a purse and aimed a gun at someone, Robinson said.
Sentencing is expected to be held on Friday.