2 men guilty in robbery spree
By Blake Belden, Staff Writer
Jan 27, 2014, 12:37
CHESTERFIELD — A Hopewell man who robbed multiple Chesterfield gas stations with a knife and stole $30,000 worth of jewelry from a family friend was sentenced to more than 16 years in prison Thursday afternoon in Chesterfield Circuit Court.
Randall Denny, 22, pleaded guilty in November to three counts of robbery, one count of grand larceny and larceny with the intent to sell or distribute in addition to a separate charge of committing a felony as a prisoner, which Denny pleaded guilty to earlier this month.
Judge Harold Burgess sentenced Denny to a total of 71 years imprisonment, with 54 years and 10 months suspended.
The robberies date back to April 2013 where Denny and co-defendant Sammy Staples would steal money from convenience stores with a knife as a means of paying off Denny’s drug dealer, with whom he had a debt from feeding a heroin addiction, according to court records.
Staples, 27, from Chester, pleaded guilty in December to three charges of robbery for which he was sentenced to 6 years incarceration with the Virginia Department of Corrections and shall be on good behavior upon his release for a period of 25 years.
The two men were accused of a robbery at the Exxon at 701 Bermuda Hundred Road, just off Interstate 295 between Hopewell and Chester on April 22; a robbery at the Citgo at 2730 E. Hundred Road, just across the Appomattox River from Hopewell, on April 15; a robbery of the Citgo at 8701 Iron Bridge Road near Richmond on April 19; and a larceny of cash from the iJefferson Express at 16638 Jefferson Davis Highway, between Chester and Colonial Heights, on April 21.
Staples had also been addicted to heroin after he lost his job and girlfriend, according to an interview with detectives.
Denny’s larceny charges date back to several months before the robberies, when Denny was invited into the home of a family friend. While there, he walked upstairs, grabbed handfuls of jewelry and stuffed it into his pockets after which he eventually sold the jewelry at Affordable Gold for cash, according to an interview with Chesterfield detectives following his arrest.
During this interview, Denny admitted that he stole the jewelry to pay off debts resulting from his heroin addiction, and that he was “totally ashamed” that he stole it.
The final charge of a felony as a prisoner occurred while Denny was being held in the Chesterfield County Jail. Denny tampered with a sprinkler head in the ceiling of his jail cell, causing it to burst and send water flooding under the door, according to court records.
Before Burgess read his sentencing, which took into account the combination of all of Denny’s separate offenses, Denny said that he was “really sorry” for the victims, the victims’ families and his own family for what he did to them and that he wanted to “ask for forgiveness.”
Denny’s attorney, Jason Anthony, who knew Denny as he was growing up, asked the judge to hand Denny a minimal sentence, referencing a personal history of alcoholism to emphasize the transformative power of a drug addiction, that it’s like being underwater without being able to surface and a person across from you has an oxygen tank.
“Would you rip it out of his mouth even if it wasn’t yours?” Anthony implored in an effort to sway Burgess toward a more lenient sentence.
The prosecution argued that although Denny’s drug addiction may explain his behavior in committing these crimes, it does not excuse it.
“There is the choice to stop. There is the choice to get help,” the prosecutor said.
As part of his sentencing, Denny is ordered to pay restitution for the $30,000 worth of stolen jewelry as well as a joint and several restitution with Staples for more than $2,500 in costs regarding the robberies.