Second teen pleads guilty

BLUE EARTH – A second teenager has pleaded guilty in a case involving two boys who broke out of Elmore Academy this summer.

Garrett Zabel, 17, was certified as an adult and pleaded guilty to two felony counts, including fleeing on foot and theft of a motor vehicle.

Roberto Reyes, also 17, pleaded guilty last month to fleeing an officer and theft of a motor vehicle.

Because Zabel was certified as an adult, he was placed on probation for the charges, and has two felony counts on his adult record. If he has any probation violations, he could be sent to prison, not a juvenile facility, according to Judge Douglas Richards.

The theft of a motor vehicle felony carries a 10-year sentence and two-thirds would be served.

“You’ve got somebody of that age, it’s a balancing act,” said LaMar Piper, assistant prosecuting attorney for Faribault County. “You want them to understand the seriousness of what happened, but you don’t want to lock them away.”

Since Zabel is still facing charges in Olmsted County, he has been returned to the juvenile facility in Red Wing.

Zabel will be formally sentenced on the felony charges in Faribault County at 11 a.m. Jan. 6.

“Soone after sentencing, he will likely be released and go into probation,” Piper said.

Both boys originally faced three charges, including use of deadly force against a peace officer or correctional employee; fleeing a peace officer in a motor vehicle; and theft of a motor vehicle.

They were accused of leading officers from multiple agencies on a high-speed chase Aug. 10 through two counties and smashing several squad cars before being apprehended.

According to a report from the Faribault County Sheriff’s Office:

Zabel and Reyes had been at YSI and decided to escape or flee, in part because Reyes believed he was going to be sent to a five- to eight-month correctional program.

Both Zabel and Reyes planned their flight from YSI as a joint undertaking, and both left at about the same time and followed the same prearranged plan.

Both were together at an Elmore residence, from which they took a pickup.