Authorities on Thursday announced accused K-9 Schultz killer Skyler Robinson will not face prison time in connection with the police dog's death or the robbery of a Chinese restaurant that same night.
Camden County Prosecutor Warren Faulk and Gloucester Township Police Chief W. Harry Earle issued a joint press release announcing Robinson, 22, of Sewell, will avoid prison time after a judge granted his request to enter drug rehabilitation rather than face a prison sentence by going to trial.
Robinson applied for drug treatment as an alternative to incarceration, and that request was granted by Superior Court Judge Thomas Brown on Thursday.
The Sewell man was indicted in June 2011 on counts of robbery, conspiracy to commit robbery, aggravated assault, resisting arrest and two counts of injury to law enforcement animals.
As part of Brown's ruling, Robinson must plead guilty in order to enter the drug rehabilitation program. Additionally, Robinson will be given an alternative state prison sentence, which would be imposed should he not successfully complete the drug program. The date for that hearing has not yet been scheduled.
Robinson's co-conspirator in the Lucky Dragon job, Evan Scotese, 21, also of Sewell, currently is serving a six-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to second-degree robbery on Aug. 1, 2011, in connection with the case.
Police responding to the East Church Street Chinese restaurant the night of Nov. 30, 2010, on a report of a robbery ended up pursuing the suspects to Route 42.
K-9 Schultz's handler, Cpl. Mark Pickard, released Schultz after ordering Robinson, who was 20 years old at the time, to stop and warning him he had a police dog with him, according to authorities.
K-9 Schultz caught up to Robinson, and the police dog and Washington Township man struggled. It is alleged Robinson punched Schultz in the head, forcing the K-9 to release its grip. When Schultz caught Robinson again, the former Washington Township High School football star began swinging Schultz into the path of oncoming traffic in an effort to make the K-9 release his arm.
Robinson and K-9 Schultz reportedly were struck by the same car.
The Sewell man ran from the scene. He was arrested at his home the next morning.
The 3 1/2-year-old German shepherd was struck by at least three more cars, according to authorities, and died at the scene.
UPDATE, 7:17 p.m. 1/24: According to Camden County Prosecutor's Office, Robinson was able to take advantage of a new law passed by the state Legislature last year.
The law, which was adopted July 19, 2012, and took effect this past Saturday, "expanded the guidelines for those allowed admission to rehabilitation as an alternative to incarceration," Camden County Prosecutor's Office spokesman Jason Laughlin noted. "Under the new law, offenders charged with second-degree charges, like the robbery charge filed against Robinson, are eligible for the diversionary program. The robbery did not involve a weapon and Robinson does not have a prior history of violent offenses, both elements which allowed him to be considered for rehabilitation."
The prosecutor's office opposed the judge's decision.
"Under the new statute, the prosecutor’s dffice no longer has the authority to deny a defendant’s application to drug court," Laughlin wrote. "Instead, admissibility is in the sole discretion of the judge."
Robinson has been in trouble with the law on drug-related matters since his November 2010 arrest in connection with the Lucky Dragon robbery and K-9 Schultz's death. He was arrested in August 2012 in Gloucester County on drug-distribution charges, accused of selling prescription oxycodone to an undercover police officer.
Schultz's death in the line of duty led to an outpouring of support for the local police department, as well as a new state law named after him that increased the penalties for those found guilty of killing a police animal. Because Schultz was killed before the law was passed, the new penalties would not have applied to Robinson had he been found guilty or pleaded guilty.