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Man pleads guilty to swiping car from 80-year-old woman

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A man who swiped the keys out of an elderly woman's hand and took off in her car has pleaded guilty in court after family members spotted him on a video and turned him in to police.

Brent Prouse, 24, of St. Albans told Kanawha Circuit Judge Charles King he needed help with a drug problem and would waive a grand jury indictment.

"I just want to do my time and go home," he said. "I just want to get this over with."

Assistant Prosecutor Maryclaire Akers told the judge the Prouse needed a car to get from Charleston to St. Albans on Oct. 16 after he got a call about buying pills.

She said he first spotted a doctor in the parking garage at Charleston Area Medical Center's General Division, but thought he might put up a fight. Instead, he grabbed the car keys from 80-year-old Mildred Carper as she was getting out of her 2002 Jeep Liberty.

"He demanded money but she didn't have any," Akers said. "He took the keys out of her hand, drove away and left her there."

Security cameras in the parking garage captured the theft, and police released those to local television stations in an effort to identify him. His mother and sister notified police after seeing the video.

Prouse pleaded guilty by way of information, as opposed to a grand jury indictment, to second-degree robbery. In exchange for his plea, Akers said prosecutors will drop two other robbery cases against him, including one involving his own parents.

He faces a possible sentence of five to 18 years in prison when he returns to court in December.

He was expected to plead guilty Wednesday, but changed his mind at the last minute. He told the judge he changed his mind again and decided to accept the plea agreement.

"I was scared yesterday," he told King when asked to explain. "I thought I could get a lower sentence. It's still a big sentence for what it is but I got to take what it is."

Gail Michelson, Prouse's public defense attorney, indicated that she will request that he be sent to the Anthony Center for Youthful Offenders.

King questioned Prouse's rush to plead guilty, but said he understood the evidence against him was "substantial."

King said, "It would be difficult to challenge his own mother, successfully that is."


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