Trial gets underway in Grass Valley T-Mobile robbery case |

Trial gets underway in Grass Valley T-Mobile robbery case

Brian Mack

A 21-year-old man on trial for the November 2018 robbery of the Grass Valley T-Mobile store does not dispute his involvement, his attorney said.

“This case is not a whodunit — this case is a what is it?” said Stephen Munkelt, Brian Mack’s defense attorney, during opening statements on Thursday. ”He admits he committed a crime. The question is what kind: robbery or grand theft?”

Mack’s trial on two counts of second-degree robbery got underway in Nevada County Superior Court. Mack and three other men were arrested after they allegedly robbed the store on Nevada County Highway and fled in a Jeep. The other three men have accepted plea agreements.

Deputy District Attorney Cambria Lisonbee stressed to the jurors the main point of contention to be determined was, in fact, whether the crime was a burglary or a robbery accomplished by use of fear. Both employees inside the store were “too terrified” to move, Lisonbee said.

Munkelt argued none of the men who came in the store showed weapons or made threats. Mack, he added, only “pops” inside the store as the others were exiting, scoops a phone off the floor and runs back out.

Mack is not guilty of robbery or of using any force or fear, just of grand theft, Munkelt said.

Employee Christian Jewell testified he was getting ready to close out the cash drawer when three men rushed into the store that night.

As he turned to greet them, he said, one of the men yelled at him to shut up.

Jewell said he didn’t want to interfere as the men ripped phones off display areas, adding that he was afraid of being injured or killed.

“It felt like forever and then all of a sudden it was just over,” he said.

On cross-examination, Jewell said he was aware of a prior robbery of the store by suspects with guns, which contributed to his fear.

Other testimony Thursday morning was provided by Grass Valley police officers who followed the getaway vehicle and detained Mack after he fled on foot from the stopped Jeep. The trial is set to resume today with closing statements.

To contact Staff Writer Liz Kellar, email or call 530-477-4236.

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