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East Peoria Times-Courier - East Peoria, IL
  • UPDATED: Arrests made in Casey's robbery

  • Two people have been arrested in connection with an armed robbery which occurred last summer at a Washington Casey's General Store.
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  • Two people have been charged in connection with an armed robbery which occurred last summer at a Washington Casey's General Store.
    Todd Lawson, 22, previously of Pekin, was charged Jan. 23 in Tazewell County Circuit Court with one count of armed robbery with a firearm. The charge is a Class X felony.
    Also arrested in connection with the case is Whitney Graham, 20, of East Peoria. Graham was the driver in the robbery, prosecutors said.
    She faces one count of armed robbery in circuit court.
    Prosecutors said Graham is a former Casey's employee who aided Lawson and a second suspect in the case.
    According to court documents, Lawson and the second man entered the store at 2201 Washington Road shortly before midnight last July 1 and asked the clerk about the price of cigarettes.
    As he replied, Lawson displayed a silver-sided handgun. The second robber walked behind the counter.
    He quickly opened a safe to reach a cash box containing $425, according to a prosecutor's court affidavit.
    The two men fled without injuring the clerk.
    The safe was locked and accessible only by its combination. The robbers knew the combination because Graham had given it to them, prosecutors said in court documents.
    Washington Police arrested Lawson Jan. 21 and Graham on Friday afternoon.
    "It's been a long time coming," Washington Police Detective Commander Jeff Stevens said Friday. "We did everything we could to gather information at the time of the incident and continued to investigate the matter. When the time came that we felt we could go forward and make an arrest, we did."
    Police still seek to arrest a second man in the case that has taken six months to develop, in part because the store clerk working the night of the robbery reportedly feared the gunmen might seek him out if he talked.
    With the clerk's improved cooperation, evidence proved solid enough to arrest Lawson.
    "The investigation is continuing and we expect more arrests," Stevens said.
    Lawson is set for a preliminary hearing at 2 p.m. Feb. 21 and he is being held in the Tazewell County jail in lieu of posting $20,000 cash.
    The store's owners, Casey's General Stores, previously balked at turning over all the surveillance tapes to Washington Police. Casey's eventually complied and Stevens said the tapes were "helpful in the investigation."
    Reporter Michael Smothers of GateHouse News Service contributed to this story.

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