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Man pleads, is sentenced in 2003 craft store robbery

April 21, 2004|by PEPPER BALLARD

pepperb@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - After a morning of talks between the prosecution and defense Tuesday, Robin Eugene Lewis entered an Alford plea to a charge of second-degree assault in connection with an April 2, 2003, robbery at Michaels Arts & Crafts in Hagerstown.

In exchange for Lewis' Alford plea to the second-degree assault charge, the state agreed to drop charges of armed robbery, robbery, theft of more than $500, first-degree assault, false imprisonment and reckless endangerment.

Under an Alford plea, a defendant does not admit guilt but acknowledges the prosecution has sufficient evidence to convict.

Lewis, 36, has been held at the Washington County Detention Center for nearly a year.

A two-day trial in the case in January ended with the jury unable to reach a unanimous verdict.

Circuit Judge W. Kennedy Boone III on Tuesday said a poll of the jury showed 10 people were in favor of acquittal and two were in favor of conviction.

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The state was set to take the case to trial again.

Boone on Tuesday sentenced Lewis to the maximum 10-year sentence on the second-degree assault charge, but suspended all but 18 months, to be served at the Washington County Detention Center. Boone said Lewis would get credit for time served.

Boone said he would deal with the issue of restitution on May 4, the date that had been set for Lewis' retrial.

After the April 2 armed robbery at Michaels, at 17225 Cole Road, Lewis was found on May 12 living in a crawl space in the home of his former roommate, Washington County Assistant State's Attorney Robert Veil said.

Lewis fled the home and was found July 26 in Rehoboth Beach, Del., Veil said.

Lewis was in court Tuesday so Veil and Washington County Assistant Public Defender Eric Reed could argue which evidence would be admitted into Lewis' May trial.

Eventually, Boone said the attorneys would return in the afternoon with some type of agreement.

When they returned, Lewis went to the side of the courtroom with Reed to discuss the arrangement as Boone heard other cases.

After Lewis entered his Alford plea to second-degree assault, Boone found him guilty of the charge based on the statement of facts.

Washington County Sheriff's Department Cpl. Roy Harsh testified during Lewis' preliminary hearing that on April 2 the Michaels' department manager was heading into the store's locked money room with the day's receipts when he was robbed.

A silver-colored handgun was displayed, and it wasn't until a scuffle with the robber that the manager realized it was a toy, Harsh testified.

Police found $5,974 in cash and checks were stolen, according to Harsh and charging documents.

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