By Guy Leonard, County Times
HOLLYWOOD, Md. (July 3, 2008)—John T. Summers III, the man who robbed a 7-Eleven convenience store in Mechanicsville in early February, pleaded guilty to the crime of armed robbery last week in St. Marys County Circuit Court.
Summers, who was originally charged with both first and second-degree assault and weapons offenses, received a 10 year prison sentence suspended down to 18 months in the county detention center.
States Attorney Richard Fritz said, in this particular case, the lighter sentence fits the crime.
Hes a young man, no criminal record, Fritz said. Hes not what you would call a young man from the streets.
Hes unquestionably a man who, if sent to the penitentiary, would become a victim of the worst kind.
Fritz said that Summers committed the robbery to get money in an attempt to forestall an apparent foreclosure on his familys home.
Its a very serious crime, but were charged with looking at each case as being unique, Fritz said, adding that the gun used in the Feb. 9 robbery was not loaded.
Fritz said even during the robbery, the defendant was reported to have apologized for his actions to his victims.
Summers sentence included no option for work release during his year-and-a-half incarceration, Fritz said, and he must also complete an alcohol abuse program as part of his sentence.
According to charging documents filed against Summers, witnesses at the Mechanicsville 7-Eleven, who would become Summers victims, told police Summers walked into the store wearing a bandana over his face, and while holding a rifle, demanded money from the store employee.
The employee fled the store but fell down and hurt himself in the escape attempt, charging documents state.
Summers followed the employee outside and ordered him back inside the store, charging documents state, and again demanded money.
The employee handed over $167 in cash from the stores till, charging documents state.
Another witness who arrived at the store as the robbery was occurring, saw Summers come out of the store, carrying a rifle, and leave in a red Honda Civic with a Maryland registration.
The second witness followed the car Summers was driving all the way down to Laurel Grove Road going south bound on Route 235, all the while directing police units to where Summers vehicle was going.
Police units stopped Summers vehicle just after it turned down Laurel Grove Road and found the rifle in the passenger side of the car as well as the suspected stolen cash in Summers pockets.
By taking the plea deal Summers avoided much harsher prison sentences than if he had been convicted of the assault charges. The first-degree assault charge alone carried a possible 25-year sentence.
Summers will also have to submit to two years of probation upon his release from the county detention center.
This was a kind of comic tragedy, Fritz said of the crime. Thats exactly what it is.