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Cheel to spend eight years behind bars

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By Susan Sharp

Royal Cheel will have quite awhile to cool his heels following court on Monday.

Under the plea agreement he consented to Cheel was sentenced to eight years in prison for two counts of aggravated robbery and burglary.

The 27 –year- old Pioneer man managed to evade authorities for nearly a year until his luck ran out last month.

That is when a joint investigation conducted by the LaFollette Police Department Detective division and the Campbell County Sheriff’s Department caught up with Cheel.

He had been a suspect in a February 2008 incident in which a masked man reportedly entered a gas station and walked behind the cashier holding a black semi-automatic handgun.  The clerk was instructed to get on his knees while the suspect stole approximately $2,500 in cash from the store, police said.

The masked man then allegedly stole the clerk’s car to make his getaway.

The clerk’s vehicle was recovered but the robber had left something behind. The mask worn by the man in the course of the crime was discovered in the car, police said.  It was DNA recovered from the mask that later became a key factor in building a case against Cheel.

In May 2008 the local Kentucky Fried Chicken was robbed, according to LPD records.

Two night employees at the restaurant were robbed at gunpoint as they attempted to leave the store.  The male and female employees were exiting through the rear door with the deposit bags when they were waylayed by a male wearing a ski mask and coveralls.  The man pointed a dark colored automatic handgun at them demanding the deposit bags, according to the LPD police report.

After gaining the bags the suspect, now known to be Cheel, fled on foot in the direction of Sharp’s motel, according to LPD Detective David Muse.

It was Cheel’s third crime that finally turned up the heat on him.

LaFollette Police officers were dispatched to Pizza Hut in late February, where Cheel was an employee, to investigate when an alarm was triggered.  The restaurant appeared to be untouched. However, in a follow-up visit officers learned $600 was missing from the store’s safe, records indicate.

As evidence continued to mount in the case, Muse and CCSD Detective Brandon Elkins felt they had enough information to bring Cheel in for questioning.

Based on information obtained in the interview Cheel was arrested for the series of crimes.

“If we hadn’t started working together on this case it is likely we would have never been able to solve it,” Muse said.