A 20-year-old from Bloomingburg who threatened victims with a handgun during a robbery will serve four years in prison.
James Joseph Howell, Jr. appeared Monday in the Fayette County Court of Common Pleas on two counts of aggravated robbery, each a felony of the first degree. The charges were elevated to the first degree because a handgun was involved in the incident, according to Fayette County Assistant Prosecutor John Scott.
The Washington Court House Police Department was dispatched Feb. 7 to a residence in the 700 block of East Temple Street.
Howell and a second person forced their way into the residence and began “ransacking” the kitchen looking for money, reports said. There were two people inside the home at the time of the robbery. The two victims told police that they recognized Howell as “a friend of a friend.”
The second person involved in the robbery has not been identified. That person wore a mask over their face, according to testimony heard in court Monday, and Howell has refused to name the person.
Reports said Howell told the victims during the robbery that if they tried anything he would “blow them away.”
Howell and the unidentified suspect left the residence with two backpacks containing the wallet of one victim and a pack of cigarettes.
During Monday’s court proceeding, Fayette County Court of Common Pleas Judge Steven Beathard said Howell and his defense attorney, Thomas J.C. Arrington, jointly negotiated the plea and sentence with the Fayette County Prosecutor’s Office.
By negotiating his own plea deal, Howell gave up any chance of appealing the charges.
The sentencing order states Howell is to serve four years on each robbery charge, with the two sentences running concurrently for a total term of four years. He was credited with 33 days of time already served in the Fayette County Jail on the charges. Without the plea deal, Howell faced a maximum total sentence of 22 years in prison.
Beathard told Howell that he is eligible for one to five days of good time credit while imprisoned depending on program participation and conduct. Following the conclusion of his term in prison, Howell has a mandatory five-year supervision period with the Ohio Adult Parole Authority. If he violates the terms of the supervision, he may be placed back into prison.
Howell had no prior criminal record to this case, reports said.
Following his sentencing hearing, Howell remained in custody of the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office to be transported to prison.
Reach Ashley by calling her at (740) 313-0355 or by searching Twitter.com for @ashbunton