The Blaine man who robbed the Mayer Oil Company gas station in December 2011 was sentenced in federal court earlier this month to 14 years and 2 months in prison.
Demetrius Charles Edward Derden, 28, who in August pleaded guilty to the charge of Interference with Commerce by Robbery, was sentenced in U.S. District Court by Judge Patrick Schiltz on Feb. 6 in Minneapolis. Derden originally was prosecuted by the Carver County Attorney’s office, but the case was eventually turned over to the U.S. Attorney, who was able to seek stiffer penalties under federal law than the county attorney could under state law.
Derden was prosecuted under the Hobbs Act, which, passed in 1946, allows federal prosecutors to prosecute habitual violent criminals who commit armed robbery in places of business that involve interstate commerce. This robbery violated both federal law and state laws, and the federal laws called for a sentence nearly double that of Minnesota state law.
Also, because the federal system has no parole, those who receive federal sentences serve virtually the entire prison term imposed. According to a release issued by the Carver County Attorney’s Office announcing the sentencing, Derden will be required to serve at least 80 percent, or 11.3 years, of the 170-month sentence.
The case arose from a Dec. 3, 2011, incident, in which Derden, armed with what was later determined to be a BB Gun, entered the Mayer Oil Company gas station and demanded the teenage clerk empty the cash drawer. Derden then led the clerk, who has not been identified, into the back of the store, where he demanded the clerk empty the safe. The clerk removed cash from the bottom of the safe, but told Derden he didn’t know the combination to the upper compartment.
At that point, Derden placed the gun to the clerk’s head and according to court documents, told him that he better remember, because his life depended on it. When the clerk heard the gun click, he presumed the gun was not working and stood up and began to struggle with Derden.
During the struggle, Derden struck the clerk in the head with the gun and bit the clerk’s hand. However, the clerk was able to punch Derden in the groin, gain control of the gun and strike Derden in the head. Derden fled the store with $2,259 in cash, but left several personal items behind, including a check card with his name on it. He was arrested several hours later at his residence in Blaine.
The prosecution, led by Julie E. Allyn, argued for a sentence of 188 months, or 15 years and 8 months, citing the violent nature of Derden’s crime and his lengthy criminal history. Derden has been convicted of numerous crimes in Minnesota, including two previous armed robberies of the same Blaine gas station within five months, and the theft of a woman’s purse.
A little more than a year after being released from prison for those Blaine robberies, Derden was arrested for the Mayer robbery. In arguing for the stiffest possible sentence, the prosecution noted in court documents that the “defendant clearly has a complete disregard for the law or for a court’s authority over him, and he is evidently undeterred by moderate prison sentences.” The prosecution also argued that the violent nature of the crime called for the most severe sentence, as this was “no mere grab and dash robbery.”
According to court documents submitted by Derden’s attorney, Steve Bergeson, the defense argued for a sentence of 5 years. The defense argued that Derden should not qualify as a career offender, noted that he suffered from a difficult upbringing in Chicago in which he was both abused and neglected, and argued that Derden would not be the only person to suffer during his sentence. Derden has twin 7-year-old girls.
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