A Muscogee County Superior Court Judge sentenced a 20-year-old Columbus man involved in a shoe store robbery to 20 years in prison without the possibility of parole. Devin Harper’s sentencing came days after his co-defendant was acquitted of all charges in the case.
According to a news report posted on the Ledger Enquirer Web site a jury found Harper guilty of armed robbery after they deliberated for nearly seven hours although he was found not guilty of other charges including three counts of kidnapping and one count of possessing a firearm during the said crime which occurred on Aug. 25, 2006 at a local Foot Locker store.
Harper will also face a separate trial on pending burglary and theft charges on a different case, which will be heard next month, prosecutors said. Harper was accused of entering the Foot Locker just before closing time with other men and robbing the store while forcing three employees to the back room at gun point. Prosecutors said he and several other men robbed merchandise from the Foot Locker.
Anton Faulkner, the 27-year-old man said to have been the getaway driver in this incident, was acquitted of all charges on June 6 after jurors deliberated just for an hour. Christopher Bitoy, 19, pleaded guilty to the crimes soon after Faulkner’s trial. He also received 20 years in prison without the possibility of parole. One other suspect is expected to plead guilty while another remains at large.
Prosecutors said jurors must have acquitted Harper on the kidnapping charges because they probably didn’t understand the legal definition. In the state of Georgia, “kidnapping” means forcing someone to move whether it’s inside a room or across the city or state, prosecutors explained.
Armed robbery cases are among the most complicated for juries to consider. There are many reasons for that. Most often the robbers are masked. Jurors and witnesses are forced to identify the culprit using a grainy surveillance tape or the victim’s hazy recollection. A heist, whether in a bank or a convenience store, happens within seconds or a couple of minutes. Victims or other eyewitnesses are shaken by the experience and will find it extremely difficult to reconstruct the chain of events or recollect the face or appearance of the perpetrator.
If you are accused of a robbery you did not commit, you need an attorney who can convince the prosecutor or make jurors see that they have the wrong person in custody. If you get convicted of armed robbery, a long prison sentence is certain. Attorneys have the experience and expertise to help you.