General Crime

* U.S. Army Sargent McGregor Binkley Gets Probation for Robbery and Assault

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A U.S. Army veteran found not guilty by reason of insanity last year of committing an armed robbery in Santa Clara County has been sentenced to five years of supervised probation for similar charges in San Mateo County Superior Court. Sargent McGregor Binkley, 35, pleaded no contest to one count of robbery with a gun and one count of assault with a gun in February 2009 in exchange for the five-year probation sentence he received Friday, Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said. Binkley has been in custody in some form since his March 6, 2006, arrest on suspicion of committing two armed robberies at Walgreens stores in Mountain View and San Carlos that year, according to defense attorney Charles Smith. He made headlines when he was convicted in Santa Clara County for the Jan. 21, 2006, robbery in Mountain View, but then found not guilty by reason of insanity by the same jury based on “mental conditions” that stemmed from his experience in the Army, Smith said. Binkley was sentenced to a minimum of six months in a state hospital for that robbery. He would have faced 12 years in state prison had he been found guilty, Smith said. Binkley suffered from both post traumatic stress disorder and an addiction to drugs such as Percocet, which “caused his life to go into a downward spiral” following his discharge in December 2002 after nine years in the Army, Smith said. During his time in service, Binkley, who was born and raised in Los Altos, served time in Bosnia and Honduras after graduating from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, Smith said. He was deployed to Bosnia in 1999 as part of a United Nations peacekeeping force, where he witnessed the aftermath of a genocide that “affected him so emotionally that he developed post traumatic stress disorder,” Smith said. His addiction to painkillers stemmed from an injury he received in the Army, according to Smith. Upon returning to the U.S., Binkley moved to Los Angeles for several years where he struggled with addiction before moving back to the Bay Area in August 2005, Smith said. After the Mountain View robbery the following January, Binkley committed nearly the exact same crime at a San Carlos Walgreens store on March 3, 2006, according to Smith. He was arrested three days later. He remained in jail from the time of his arrest until December 2007, when he was released to the Jericho Project, a program in Daly City that offers help recovering from substance abuse and criminal behavior. Under the conditions of his probation, Binkley must abstain from
alcohol and drugs; submit to chemical testing, search and seizure, and counseling; possess no weapons; and pay restitution in an amount to be determined.

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