Austin D. Groebner got a second chance last year.
Judge Barbara McCrory agreed March 20, 2019, to withhold sentence on a charge of theft while armed, which had been reduced from armed robbery.
If he could complete three years of probation successfully, the felony charge—and the threat of a prison sentence—would disappear.
But Wednesday, attorneys and McCrory said it appeared Groebner’s drug problem got the best of him.
Four months after he was sentenced, Groebner, then 18, and Tyler D. Kjell, 18, of 2531 S. River Road, Janesville, robbed a man who thought he was going to sell THC smoking cartridges to the teens.
Instead, Kjell held the man while Groebner punched him, and they robbed him of his cartridges, according to the criminal complaint. Kjell also threatened the man with a gun.
On Wednesday, Groebner, now 19, of 2624 King St., Janesville, sat in front of McCrory again, wearing jail orange.
Groebner’s attorney, Steven Zaleski, and Assistant District Attorney Mark Jahnke knew Groebner had to go to prison this time.
They recommended three years of prison plus three years of extended supervision in the first case, when Groebner and a different accomplice pointed Airsoft guns at a male in Janesville’s Bond Park and took his cellphone and backpack.
In the second case, Groebner was sentenced to two years of probation. McCrory warned him that if he fails on probation, more prison time awaits him.
McCrory said Groebner had admitted smoking marijuana daily since age 14, adding cocaine to the mix at age 17 and the opioid Suboxone at 18, among other narcotics.
She noted Groebner doesn’t have a high school diploma because he spent most of his senior year in the Rock County Jail.
McCrory said it appeared that “early trauma” was a factor in the drug use and suggested he had been self-medicating: “There’s stuff that you need to deal with, and this is an easy way to deal with it.”
McCrory encouraged him to take advantage of prison programs that would get him started on dealing with the problem.
Those programs will give him a chance at getting out of prison early. He also earned sentence credit of 345 days.
McCrory complimented Groebner for a comment his mother made, that he is very caring with his stepsister and other people with disabilities.
“It takes a certain sort of person to be able to do that, and so I will note for the record that that is a positive thing for you, that hopefully you can kind of build on that,” she said.