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Austin teen charged in attempted robbery

Editor’s Note: The Austin Daily Herald does not normally report on suspects charged with crimes as juveniles; however, the defendant in this case is being tried as an adult.

An Austin teen allegedly involved in a 2020 attempted armed robbery made his first appearance on Tuesday in Mower County DIstrict Court.

Jadon Dale Bentzin, 19

Jadon Dale Bentzin, 19, has been charged with felony aiding/abetting first-degree aggravated robbery – possess dangerous weapon, felony aiding/abetting first-degree aggravated robbery, and felony second-degree assault – dangerous weapon.

According to the court complaint, a taxi driver reported that two subjects attempted to rob him while he was driving his taxi in Austin at about 10:43 p.m. on Jan. 24, 2020. He told police he was in the 600 block of Third Avenue Northwest when the two suspects approached his vehicle. He said that one suspect approached from one side of the street and attempted to get into his cab, while the second suspect approached from across the street, stuck a handgun in his face, and demanded money.

The driver reported the suspect with the handgun struck him in the face before he drove away. An officer saw a cut on the left side of the driver’s nose.

The driver described the suspect with the handgun as a white male, 5’10, wearing a ski mask, blue jeans, blue jacket, and of skinny build carrying a pistol that was light in color. He was unable to give a description of the suspect who tried to get into the vehicle.

An officer went to the area where the incident occurred and noted a Ring video surveillance doorbell system at a nearby home. He was able to retrieve images of the incident and observed the suspect with the handgun coming from in front of a house on the north side of the street, The other suspect was initially seen in front of a house on the south side of the street. Police located two sets of footprints in the area and followed them to a residence in the 600 block of Second Avenue Northwest.

The two sets of footprints were separate, but merged on the front steps of one of the residences.

Officers set up a perimeter and a short time later, a juvenile male exited the front door of the apartment and was contacted by an officer. The juvenile was patted down and was found to be carrying a bb-gun pistol. An officer noted that the juvenile’s clothing matched the description given by the driver and that of the suspect seen in the video. The juvenile’s shoes also matched one of the sets of footprints that were followed by the officers.

The juvenile was read a Miranda warning and he agreed to talk to officers. He initially stated he had left the apartment at 9:30 p.m. to go to Taco John’s, then gave differing accounts of his route. When asked why the police may be present, he stated it had something to do with “the taxi driver getting hit.”

The juvenile claimed that three people were present for the robbery and named himself, another person, and Bentzin as being involved. He said Bentzin was the suspect who held the pistol in the taxi driver’s face; however, when he was told there was video of the incident, he said that only he and Bentzin were involved and that it was actually him that held the pistol in the taxi driver’s face.

Bentzin then exited the apartment and was detained by officers. He declined to speak to police, though he and the juvenile later had a recorded conversation implicating each of them in the attempted robbery of the taxi driver.

On March 22, a certification hearing was held in Mower County District Court and Bentzin agreed to certification of the matter to adult court. In an order filed in Mower County District Court, the Court ordered that Bentzin stand trial as an adult.

A review of Bentzin’s criminal record shows a prior conviction for aggravated robbery.

Bentzin will appear in court again on April 1.