NORWICH – A masked man who was arrested for robbing a Norwich pharmacy clerk, and then released on a ticket due to New York State bail reform in early 2021, will have his case decided in court this week.
David Daniel Brunell, 30, of Norwich, is charged with third degree robbery. He was released without bail and has opted for a non-jury trial, meaning his case will be decided by Chenango County Court Judge Frank Revoir.
He has pleaded not guilty to the crime.
“This case started in 2021 when the defendant walked into the Walgreens on North Broad Street, placed his hands in his pockets, and insinuated he had a weapon. A scared cashier complied and handed him all the money from the register,” said NPD Detective Sergeant Reuben Roach on Monday. He also said Brunell was wearing a camouflage balaclava mask at the time.
“Within 13 hours of the crime he was in custody and charged with robbery. But he was released on an appearance ticket and has been out. It is due to the bail reform laws of New York State, they tie your hands,” said Roach.
“The victim who was robbed was a young person who was scared for their life and thought at the time there was a potential for deadly force. They have to live with that,” he said.
Roach said the crime was “definitely drug related.”
The incident occurred at approximately 7:20 p.m. on Feb. 4, when the Norwich City Police Department received a radio call of a robbery in progress at Walgreens Pharmacy at 82 North Broad Street in the City of Norwich. Officers arrived at Walgreens just after the suspect had fled with an undisclosed amount of money.
Officers arrested Brunell at about 5:45 a.m. on Friday the next day.
At the time of his arrest and release Chenango County District Attorney Michael Ferrarese said, “If I had my preference he would be in jail on bail. He is a risk and a danger to the community but unfortunately the bail laws passed by the New York legislature do not permit me to make that request.”
Workers at Walgreens said they were scared the man might return to the property.
Long-time manager of the store Jerry Riesen said he could not comment on the incident, but said, “Employees followed protocols. I'm sure they were scared. Speaking for myself, I am always worried about my staff. This is Norwich and there are many drug issues here.”
Before the 2020 bail reforms were passed by New York's majority Democratic legislature, third degree robbery would have been considered a violent crime.
“The business was robbed. That employee was terrified. That was an area of law that unfortunately bail reform changed and it has had adverse consequences for our community. It's just another example of the consequences not being thought out by the legislature,” said Ferrarese.
“He's a danger to the community, no doubt about it. If you are walking into a business and robbing people, you are dangerous.”