Two young Augusta men were each sentenced to 60 years in prison after being convicted by a jury of multiple armed robbery and other crimes in McDuffie County Superior Court last Wednesday.
Derrick Stubbs II, 20, and Torrance Marquis Haskell, 19, both of Augusta, were tried together during the three-day trial.
The jury deliberated only 45 minutes before returning their verdict with sentencing being imposed immediately afterwards by Toombs Judicial Circuit Superior Court Chief Judge Roger W. Dunaway, Jr. The guilty verdicts were returned on all counts and were read in open court by McDuffie County Superior Court Clerk Connie Cheatham.
They were convicted for the armed robbery of the Circle K, located at 1786 Washington Road in McDuffie County between the hours of 1:30 a.m. and 2:30 a.m., on July 23, 2008. The duo also were convicted for the armed robbery of the Sprint Food Store, located at 101 East Hill Street in Thomson between the hours of 1:25 a.m. and 1:35 a.m. on July 21.
During the robberies of both stores, customers also were robbed at gunpoint.
At least three other persons were involved in the robberies -- two of whom testified in the trial of Mr. Stubbs and Mr. Haskell, who have yet to stand trial in Richmond County on armed robbery charges.
Aside from the defendants being convicted on multiple counts of armed robbery, they also were convicted on multiple counts of possession of a firearm during the commission of felony and aggravated assault.
They were prosecuted locally by Toombs Judicial Circuit Chief Assistant District Attorney Durwood Davis. He was assisted by Georgia Bureau of Investigation Special Agent Tony Williamson, who helped local authorities with the investigation of both armed robberies.
Mr. Stubbs was represented by Lucy J. Bell, of Thomson, while Mr. Haskell's counsel was M.E. Booker, of Washington -- both of whom were appointed by the court. Ms. Booker had sought a postponement of sentencing until a later date, contending she was never led to believe that her client would be facing such a harsh sentence.
She went on to say that authorities never found a gun reportedly used in the either of the robberies. Surveillance video of both store robberies revealed that a handgun was used. Testimony from Sgt. Jammie Smith of the Thomson Police Department also confirmed that a gun was pointed at him by Mr. Haskell when authorities were chasing them from an apartment off Mesena Road near Thomson.
The chase subsequently led to a manhunt, which culminated with the arrests of four men.
"They (Mr. Stubbs and Mr. Haskell) showed no regard with anyone's personal safety," when they committed the armed robberies of the stores and the individuals inside. "That's why the state is seeking the harshest punishment," the judge said.
Ms. Booker and Ms. Bell said they would appeal the convictions -- something they have a right to do within 30 days after being sentenced.
Before sentencing, Mr. Haskell's mother, Lawanda Haskell, of Augusta, told Judge Dunaway that her son had decided to hang around with the wrong crowd.
"I just beg the court's mercy," Ms. Haskell said. "Please have mercy on my son."
On his own behalf, Mr. Haskell also pleaded for mercy, saying he didn't expect the results.
As for Mr. Stubbs, Ms. Bell told Judge Dunaway, "He has the whole world in front of him."
She also pointed out that her client didn't kill anybody.
Mr. Stubbs chose not to address the judge.
"It is a sad case," Judge Dunaway said. "But they reeked havoc in this county over a three-day period. They terrified a lot of people."