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Staples man sentenced in armed robbery

A Staples man has been convicted of aggravated robbery in the first degree after being linked to the Jan. 25 armed robbery of the Staples Self Serve convenience store.

On Jan. 25, a man in a hooded sweatshirt approached the store clerk and pulled a handgun from his waistband, demanding money. On the same day at approximately the same time of the robbery, a car was seen parked at an apartment complex about a block away from the scene of the theft. Witnesses recalled a car with North Dakota license plates described as either green or blue, resembling the make and model of a Ford Taurus.

Through investigation of footprints leading away from the scene combined with witness accounts, it was deduced that the suspect had made his way to the apartment complex after executing the robbery and into the vehicle with another individual. According to witnesses, the car was seen earlier that day and was being driven by a female.

The female was later identified as Mary Elizabeth Moen, 26, of Adams, N.D. Moen was said to be the girlfriend of Joshua James McKenna, 25, as well as mother to McKenna's child. After a search of the Moen family's vehicle records, police found that the Moen's owned two Ford Taurus cars matching the description of the robbery vehicle.

Staples authorities also found that the family lives in Adams, N.D., which confirmed the information was consistent with witnesses' reports. A run on McKenna's license showed his address as being one mile from the location of the armed robbery. Both parties' cell phone records showed calls were made off of a tower in Motley within an hour of the robbery.

McKenna was located and interviewed by special agents Feb. 10 regarding his involvement in the robbery. He told police a story involving his friend "Chip," who he had picked up in the Twin Cities earlier in the day Jan. 25. He said they had driven to Staples, where he had driven around for a period of time before parking the vehicle, which he described as a Ford Taurus, at an apartment complex near the Staples Self Serve. He said that "Chip" then left on foot and was gone for around 10 minutes. McKenna said he noticed Chip was out of breath when he returned and that squad cars were responding to an incident as they drove toward Perham on U.S. Highway 10. McKenna said prior to him dropping Chip off at a gas station in Perham, the man confessed to having robbed someone in Staples.

At that time, it was noticed that McKenna was using a cell phone to communicate with someone during the interview. Authorities confiscated the phone after observing a text message sent to Moen asking if she had dropped Chip off somewhere.

After being placed under custody, McKenna gave several different accounts in regard to being in Staples. Most of his stories involved his whereabouts being in the Twin Cities prior to the robbery and ending in a delivery of drugs to Fargo. Cell phone records showed that McKenna's phone was in the Twin Cities following the robbery.

Agents also met with Moen at her parent's residence Feb. 10. She admitted she owned the suspect vehicle, was dating McKenna, and that he had used her car recently. Her father informed agents that his daughter told him that her car had been used in a robbery. During a search of the vehicle, authorities found a green hooded sweatshirt similar to the one described by the store clerk.

McKenna was found guilty in the armed robbery of Staples Self Serve and sentenced to 365 days in the Wadena County Jail with a credit for time served of 166 days, as well as 58 months in the St. Cloud Correctional Facility, stayed for 20 years. The sentence also includes 20 years of supervised probation and $1,665 in fees that can potentially be resolved in work through the Wadena Community Corrections program.

McKenna was released to North Dakota authorities July 24, regarding pending charges.