Viewed from an overhead camera in the cathedral’s north vestibule, the robbery unfolds first with Lucille Morinelli scanning a copy of the parish newsletter as she stands at a table.

Then, from a second camera, two assailants pull open the door to St. Cecilia Cathedral and, in moments, are at the 76-year-old victim’s back.

The suspect on the right yanks Morinelli’s purse from her grasp. The man to the left lobs a punch that leaves the victim folded on the floor. Morinelli hit her head on the side of the table as she fell.

That was Aug. 16.

Wayman Clark, the 23-year-old man accused by prosecutors of punching Morinelli, pleaded guilty Wednesday to robbery in the case.

Clark faces up to 50 years in prison when he is sentenced on Aug. 3.

Larry Leggett, 21, who is accused of approaching Morinelli from behind and grabbing her purse, has pleaded not guilty to a charge of robbery. He is scheduled for a pretrial conference Monday.

Clark’s attorney said his client panicked when his co-defendent took Morinelli’s purse. Clark hit Morinelli squarely on the side of her face, knocking her down.

“He feels really bad ... and he wishes he could have it back,” Michael Poepsel said in an interview, adding that he was unsuccessful in getting prosecutors to agree to lesser charges.

“They stood firm,” he said. “We tried, but they stood firm.”

In 2012, Clark was sentenced to one year in prison for theft by receiving stolen property, according to Douglas County Court records. He also has been convicted for carrying a concealed weapon. When he was 17, Clark ran away from the Clarinda Academy, an Iowa residential facility for delinquent teenagers.

Contact the writer: 402-444-3106, emerson.clarridge@owh.com

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