Judge locks up man who robbed Main Street restaurant at gunpoint
October 4, 2016
A 3rd District Court judge on Monday sentenced the man who robbed a Main Street restaurant at gunpoint in March to up to 15 years in state prison, acknowledging the grave circumstances involved in what was a rare, unsettling gun case along the popular shopping, dining and entertainment strip.
Christopher Schutte, 47 years old and a Kamas resident, wore a striped prison jumpsuit with handcuffs and leg irons as he appeared in front of Judge Paige Petersen. The judge sentenced him to between 1 and 15 years on counts of robbery and attempted aggravated burglary related to the Main Street robbery, the maximum allowed. The sentences will run concurrently. Petersen also sentenced him to between zero and five years in state prison on unrelated counts of drug possession and child endangerment. They will also run concurrently.
"It's serious enough I have to do a prison sentence," the judge told Schutte.
Schutte robbed Flanagan's on Main midmorning on March 27. In a charging document filed against Schutte, prosecutors said he entered the restaurant before it was open and ordered an employee at gunpoint to unlock a cooler and give him the keys, telling the employee to get inside the cooler. Prosecutors said he stole expensive champagne and wine. He was a former employee, the charging document said.
Schutte eluded the authorities, escaping as a major police response descended on Main Street and nearby roads. An investigation by the Park City Police Department and a regional drug task force led to Schutte's arrest several days later at a hotel at Kimball Junction. He pleaded guilty to reduced charges in August as part of a deal with prosecutors.
Schutte told the judge on Monday he was in a car accident involving a drunken driver and had been taking opiates for six years. He had attempted to medicate himself, he acknowledged. Schutte said, though, he is now "lucid." He said he was "sorry to be here."
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"Nothing's worse than not thinking right," he also said.
Petersen said Schutte has a criminal history and earlier cases were not like the robbery. She said it was "really, really a serious offense."
Schutte's court-appointed public defender, Joseph Barrett, addressed the judge, saying his client's history is "one of pure tragedy" as he also spoke about the drunken driving accident. He did not dispute the violent nature of the Flanagan's on Main case. He also said prison might not help Schutte and that he wanted him to receive assistance as he fights drug use.
"Things just truly unraveled," Barrett said.
But Ryan Stack, a Summit County prosecutor, told Petersen the case involved an "incredibly violent act."
"He could have stopped at any point," he said.
In an interview after the sentencing, Barrett said he wants Schutte to receive treatment for an opioid dependency while he is in prison.
"Prison is a hard place . . . for someone seeking help with substances dependency," Barrett said.
He said Schutte "honestly believed he was owed compensation for legitimate services," leading to the robbery.
Stack said afterward it is best that Schutte receive treatment in a "secure setting," a scenario that he said also keeps the community safe.
A co-owner of Flanagan's on Main, John Kenworthy, issued a statement about the sentencing: "The headlines say 'Armed Robbery on Main Street' . . . but the real story is all about drugs and the path of desperation they lead addicts on. Instantly, users in today's world 'experimenting' with these opioid drugs die or get hooked for life. And each life lost to addiction brings misery to both family and community. This pain is everywhere now. Our bubble has burst. Drug addiction must be attacked from all fronts. Protecting our quality of life is so much more than open space, traffic mitigation and preventing global warming. Our beautiful Park City is blessed to be guarded by the best in law enforcement, but if we are going to win this battle against drugs and addiction we have to unite and go all in together as a community. Here at Flanagan's we are all in."