Risetter plea is denied

FORT?DODGE?-A Webster County judge refused to accept a plea agreement Monday after the defendant denied he threatened a convenience store clerk.

James Risetter, 68, of Webster City, is charged with one count of second-degree robbery.

He was set to plead guilty to extortion in Webster County District Court Monday as part of a plea agreement with prosecutors.

Risetter is accused of walking into the Casey’s General Store in Dayton on April 27 and demanding money from the cashier.

During his hearing in District Court, Risetter told Judge Thomas Bice that he did walk into the Casey’s that night and told the clerk that he needed money. He said he received the money and left the store.

However, when asked by Bice if he threatened the clerk or made any threatening gestures, Risetter said he did not.

To prove extortion, prosecutors must prove that the defendant threatened to commit physical injury or to commit a public offense, according to the Iowa Code.

Risetter repeatedly denied threatening the clerk under questioning from both Bice and his attorney, Joe McCarville, of Fort Dodge.

Bice then stopped the hearing, telling the court that he was not willing to accept the guilty plea because it was not proven that Risetter had committed extortion.

“It’s ripe for appeal and it’s ripe to contest,” Bice said. “I’m very uneasy about accepting the plea.”

He went on to say that the matter can be scheduled for a later time, if necessary.

McCarville then requested that his client be released from the Webster County Jail with supervision to the Department of Correctional Services.

Risetter is being held in jail on $10,000 cash-only bond.

Saying he did not believe Risetter was a threat to the community, McCarville added one of Risetter’s sons had said he would make sure his father followed his pretrial release conditions and showed up at all court appearances.

Webster County Attorney Jennifer Benson argued that Risetter should stay in jail, telling Bice that the defendant told the clerk that he was committing a stickup and had his face concealed during the incident.

Bice denied McCarville’s motion for a bond review, leaving Risetter’s bond amount unchanged.

Court adjourned without another hearing date being set by the judge.

In addition, Risetter is also facing another second-degree robbery charge in Hamilton County for a similar incident in Jewell.