‘IT IS HIM’ Manistee man will stand trial for armed robbery

Manistee County Sheriff Deputy Blake E. watches over armed robbery defendant James Michael Parrinello at Friday’s court hearing. (News Advocate/David L. Barber)

MANISTEE — Silver gun, black gun, blonde hair, dark hair, not all the witnesses to an armed robbery in Manistee testified on Friday to seeing the same thing.

But at the end of the day, James Michael Parrinello was still bound over to stand trial for armed robbery. The 29-year-old Manistee man is charged with using a pistol to rob the Admiral Tobacco Store in File Township in January. He remains jailed without bond and if found guilty, could be sentenced to prison for life.

Parrinello will now face preliminary examinations later this month that he also used a gun to rob both the A&W and Little Caesar’s on New Year’s Day.

Though Parrinello is alleged to have worn a hood over his head and covered his lower face with a bandana when he robbed the tobacco store — exposing only a small portion of his face — at least one witness was sure it was Parrinello who pointed a gun at him and ordered him to lay on the floor.

“It is him,” victim David Powell said as he pointed at Parrinello. “I’m positive. When (he) ran out of the door, he said, ‘OK, have a nice day,’ and he left.”

Patricia Leckrone, manager of the tobacco store, said she at first thought that “it was just a joke” when the person on the other side of the counter pointed a small pistol at her.

“There was a little red dot (on the gun),” Leckrone said. “I saw the red light and I thought it was a joke.”

Leckrone said the gunman quickly took the ammunition clip out of the pistol and showed it to her, and then put it back into the gun.

“He wanted me to give him the money out of the (cash register) drawer,” she said.

That is when Powell and another customer walked into the store, and both were quickly ordered to lay on the floor.

Manuel Joe Vega, 25, of Manistee, also testified. He is charged with accessory after the fact of a felony in the tobacco shop robbery. Prosecutors claim Vega was in possession of the clothes and bandanna used while robbing the tobacco store.

Vega, who had drug-related charges against him dropped by Prosecutor Ford Stone in exchange for his “truthful testimony” against Parrinello, often exchanged verbal punches with Parrinello’s defense attorney, Jesse L. Williams.

Vega said Parrinello showed up at his house and left the pistol, stolen money and outer clothing.

“I was sleeping and he woke me up,” Vega said. “He was excited. He said, ‘Oh my God, I just got laughed at. I just did another (robbery) and the chick laughed at me.’

“He told me that he popped the clip out and showed it to her.”Others who testified throughout the day included a number of police officers, who brought into play the sequence of events of the robbery, and arrest of Parrinello.



Posted by David L. Barber

David L. Barber is the retired editor of the Manistee News Advocate. He contributes columns weekly for the News Advocate. You can contact him at dlbarber1006@gmail.com.

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