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Booking Photo Dennis Chapman Wheeler (DOB 06/21/1989)

Judge sentences man to 5 years prison for Smart & Final robbery

Author: District Attorney
Date: 12/12/2019 5:14:23 PM

Today, Judge Hernaldo Baltodano sentenced Dennis Chapman Wheeler (30) of San Luis Obispo to serve five years in state prison for his conviction for robbery after a recent jury trial. He has served time in prison on two prior occasions.


District Attorney Dan Dow announced today that San Luis Obispo County Superior Court Judge Hernaldo J. Baltodano sentenced Dennis Chapman Wheeler (DOB 06/21/1989) to serve five years in state prison for his crime of robbery occuring on May 28, 2018 at the Smart and Final grocery store on Johnson Avenue in San Luis Obispo. 

While the defendant was inside the store, he loaded over $150 worth of tri-tip steak into a bag and attempted to flee the store through an emergency exit without making payment.  Wheeler’s actions were observed by a store employee, who immediately gave chase in order to recover the stolen merchandise.  Once outside the store, Wheeler turned and brandished a knife at the employee’s chest in an effort to keep the merchandise by force.  The Smart and Final employee quickly backed away and Wheeler escaped on a pre-staged bicycle. 

A photograph of the subject was obtained by the San Luis Obispo Police Department and that image was distributed to officers in the area.  The suspect was recognized to be Dennis Wheeler by law enforcement who had prior contact with him.  Two and half hours after the robbery, the suspect was located less than 2 miles from the Smart and Final. 

Last month, after hearing all of the evidence, the jury found Dennis Wheeler Guilty of Second Degree Robbery with an added enhancement of Use of a Deadly Weapon after deliberating for less than an hour.  Wheeler could have been sentenced to a maximum sentence of 8 years in prison because of his prior convictions and use of a deadly weapon.

The case was investigated by the San Luis Obispo Police Department with the assistance of the District Attorney’s Bureau of Investigation and was prosecuted by Deputy District Attorney Scott Hunter.

A copy of the defendants booking photo can be found here.

Please contact Assistant District Attorney Eric J. Dobroth at 805.781.5819 with any questions.

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