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Archive for Monday, July 11, 2005

Robber sentenced to 12 life terms

July 11, 2005

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— A Kansas City career criminal has been sentenced to 12 life terms in prison for his part in a series of holdups at bars, liquor stores and other businesses over a six-week period.

Anthony Johnson, 35, will serve the sentences concurrently and be eligible for parole in 25 years.

"If I had the opportunity to impose these sentences consecutively : I would have done so," Jackson County Circuit Judge Sandra Midkiff told Johnson on Friday.

In a series of robberies from Dec. 3, 2003, to Jan. 8, 2004, masked armed robbers terrorized employees and patrons at bars and other businesses.

In some cases, the robbers fired warning shots into the air, kicked and shoved bar patrons, pistol-whipped some victims and threatened to kill others.

At a liquor store, one suspect pointed a handgun at a store employee, who shot at the robber. The robber fired back, hitting the employee in the shoulder. The injured man was hospitalized for days in serious condition but survived.

Johnson pleaded guilty in May to five counts of robbery, one count of assault and six counts of armed criminal action in five of the incidents.

Midkiff particularly focused on the liquor store robbery in which one of Johnson's co-defendants shot the clerk in the shoulder.

"You left the store; you knew he was shot; you didn't care if he lived or died," she said.

The series of robberies "terrorized the city," said assistant prosecutor Michael Hunt. He asked for the life sentences for Johnson, who had committed crimes since he was 17.

Defense attorney Kent Hall argued for 20 years. He acknowledged that the city had been living under fear, but "this court should not be overly influenced by that."

Johnson is the third of the four ring members to be sentenced.

William Blair pleaded guilty in October to 38 counts and was sentenced to two life terms. Co-defendant James Paden pleaded guilty to one count of robbery and was sentenced to 15 years.

Mark Payne still faces 38 counts.

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