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Robbery suspect charged in Salt Lake City store holdup

Published January 17, 2013 9:59 pm

Crime • Woman's alleged partner in crime spree was killed by police in shootout.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Prosecutors have charged Sandra Chotia-Thompson for a grocery store robbery she allegedly committed the same day her alleged partner in crime was shot and killed.

Chotia-Thompson, 40, was charged with one count of first-degree felony aggravated robbery in 3rd District Court on Thursday. If convicted, she could face up to life in prison.

On Jan. 9, she entered The Grocery Store at 400 E. 1224 South, pulled out a handgun from under her hooded coat and demanded an employee put all of the money in a bag, according to charging documents. The employee opened the register, Chotia-Thompson grabbed the cash, shoved it into her coat pocket and ran out the door, the charges add.

Police responded and found a $5 bill and a small footprint nearby. The suspect's description also matched Chotia-Thompson.

Officers later arrested Chotia-Thompson without a struggle, perhaps after she learned that Kelly Fay Simons, 38, her alleged accomplice in a Murray robbery and a series of other heists dating to late last year, had been shot and killed in a confrontation with the Joint Criminal Apprehension Team (JCAT) earlier that day. Police say Simons exchanged gunfire with a Murray officer following a Saturday armed robbery.

On Jan. 9, Simons allegedly attempted to run down a JCAT officer with her pickup truck, prompting officers to shoot and kill her.

Police called Chotia-Thompson on her cellphone after the grocery store robbery, and while they were on the phone with her, investigators were able to trace her location to a parking lot at the Smith's store at 455 S. 600 East. Police had made a public plea that Chotia-Thompson give up peacefully in light of Simons' violent end.

"She was pretty distraught on the phone," Salt Lake City police Detective Mike Hamideh said the day after her arrest. He declined to say whether her angst was related to having learned of Simons' death. "Ultimately, [Chotia-Thompson] was contacted by an officer in the parking lot and taken into custody without incident."

A police sergeant found the gun on her, but it turned out to be an Airsoft pistol with the tip painted black, according to the charges.

mmcfall@sltrib.com

Twitter: @mikeypanda