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Man takes plea deal in gunfight at local bar

Robbins began spree that made U.S. news

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Marquese Robbins

THE BLADE/JETTA FRASER
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A year and a half after Toledo was thrust into the spotlight when the video of a shooting spree at a local bar hit national airwaves, the man authorities said was responsible for the gunfight entered a plea to felonious assault.

Marquese Robbins, 32, of 1103 Norwood Ave. pleaded no contest Monday in Lucas County Common Pleas Court to two counts of felonious assault, one with an accompanying gun specification. He was found guilty of firing into a crowded Route 66 Bar and Grill on Oct. 8, 2009 -- a video of which was released to the media and aired nationwide.

As part of the plea agreement, an additional two counts of felonious assault and the remaining gun specifications will be dismissed at his sentencing on May 25.

Assistant County Prosecutor Kathryn Sandretto said in court Monday one count of felonious assault was the result of shooting at people in the crowded West Toledo bar and the other was for following the bartender out of the bar, putting a gun to his head, and threatening to kill him.

"He put a gun to the bartender's head and threatened his life, saying he 'ought to just kill him,' " she said.

At the time, a video of the midnight shooting at Route 66 at 406 Westwood Ave. was broadcast frequently both locally and nationally. It showed how a physical altercation between bar employees and a patron deteriorated into a lengthy shootout.

Despite about 20 shots being fired from four guns, no one was injured.

Toledo police identified Robbins as the key shooter shortly afterward. He was not arrested until months later and in June appeared for the first time in court.

Ms. Sandretto said the incident appeared to have begun when the bartender asked Robbins to leave after seeing him try to sell marijuana. A fight ensued, and Robbins was thrown out of the bar.

"The defendant retrieved a handgun from someone who is unknown and went to the door at the Ashwood side of the bar," Ms. Sandretto said.

She said the first time Robbins tried to shoot into the bar, the gun wouldn't fire. Although the door closed and Robbins was able to leave, he aimed back into the bar and shot multiple times.

The shooting prompted gunfire both in and outside the bar, Ms. Sandretto said.

In addition to threatening the bartender, Robbins was accused of threatening a man who served as a cook.

Lashon Sawyer, who was a cook in the bar's food-service area, was initially accused of having a gun in Route 66 when the gunfire erupted. He went on trial in April, 2010, for illegal possession of a firearm in a liquor-permit premise, which ended in a hung jury.

In July, the case against Mr. Sawyer was dismissed after he passed a stipulated polygraph test and agreed to cooperate with prosecutions in the case.

Robbins entered a plea Monday on what was to be his trial date. During the hearing, he showed obvious hesitation in entering the plea. At one point, Judge Gene Zmuda noted the hesitation as well.

"You don't like entering this plea agreement, do you?" he asked.

"No," Robbins answered.

"But you understand why you're doing this?"

"Yes."

Judge Zmuda asked again if Robbins wanted him to accept the plea. He said he did.

As part of the plea agreement, the judge agreed to a prosecutor recommendation that the sentences on the assault charges run concurrent to each other, depending on Robbins' behavior pending his sentencing next month. Because the gun specification requires mandatory time in prison, Robbins faces 5 to 11 years behind bars.

Contact Erica Blake at: eblake@theblade.com or 419-213-2134.

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