IDAHO FALLS — A man who robbed two missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was sentenced Thursday.
Spencer Blanchette, 33, will spend up to a year on a rider program after pleading guilty to felony robbery and grand theft as part of a plea agreement. Blanchette pulled a knife and demanded two missionaries hand over their backpacks in November as they walked near Family Dollar by Woodruff Avenue and First Street in Idaho Falls.
While issuing the rider, District Judge Joel Tingey also gave an underlying three to nine year prison sentence. A rider program is when a judge sends a person to prison for up to a year to undergo different treatment programs. When the inmate has completed the program, the judge can then decide to send them back to prison to complete their sentence or release them on probation.
As part of the plea agreement, Bonneville County prosecutors agreed to drop a burglary charge in an unrelated case. Both the defense and prosecution also agreed to recommend a rider program as part of the agreement.
Following the robbery, Idaho Falls Police officers spoke with the missionaries who said as they walked on the sidewalk, a man later identified as Blanchette got out of the passenger side door of a Dodge Durango. The missionaries explained Blanchette approached them with a knife in hand and demanded they hand over their backpacks, which he believed had drugs inside.
The missionaries handed over their backpacks and Blanchette drove away. Police were already aware of the Durango since it was connected to a shoplifting incident at the Grand Teton Mall just before 8 p.m. that same night.
Police also say that Blanchette stole several packages from homes in Idaho Falls that day, leading to the grand theft charge.