LJWorld.com weblogs The Lawrence Crime Blotter

Judge considering boot camp for convenience-store robber


A Lawrence man convicted of robbing a convenience store at gunpoint stood up in court Friday and delivered a speech that he hoped would help keep him from going to prison.![][1]"I felt like the world was closing in on me and I had no other choice," 20-year-old Darnell Thomas told District Court Judge Robert Fairchild.Thomas said that in the months prior to the Aug. 24 robbery at Presto, 2330 Iowa, he'd lost his job, become homeless, and was sleeping on the floors of crack houses, even though he said he didn't use drugs."I lost a lot of weight. My hygiene was bad. I was headed nowhere fast," he said. "In the midst of me losing myself and forgetting where I came from, I hated my own skin."Thomas initially was charged with two counts of aggravated robbery, but prosecutors allowed him to plead guilty to one count of the lesser charge of robbery. Assistant Dist. Atty. Brandon Jones said the state agreed to the plea because of Thomas' young age and relatively short criminal history, which included a conviction for making a threatening gesture at a teacher.Under sentencing guidelines, Thomas faces a 52-month prison sentence, but he's asking the judge to make an exception to the guidelines to allow boot camp or probation. Jones said he could agree to a 36-month prison sentence for Thomas, but not probation."There's really no excuse to justify taking a weapon... putting it in the face of two individuals who were obviously terrified just to steal money," Jones said. "Even though he may have been in a bad time in his life, it does not justify doing that."Fairchild postponed making a decision, but he said he would consider the six-month boot camp in Labette as an alternative to prison. Thomas will be back in court Jan. 9.A co-defendant, Marcus J. Bell, age 20 at the time of his arrest, still has charges pending.-contributed by [Eric Weslander.][2] [1]: http://media.ljworld.com/img/blogs/lawrence_blotter/thomasdarnell_thumb.jpg [2]: http://www2.ljworld.com/staff/eric_weslander


DGL 11 years, 6 months ago

Gotta love Judge Fairchild. I guarentee boot camp will wipe that stupid grin from that robber's face.

compmd 11 years, 6 months ago

I love people that don't have money for food but can still afford a hand cannon.

you have to pay for the bad decisions you make. this guy essentially walked into the store and said "give me the money!" when he just as easily could have said, "are you hiring?"

let him serve his time.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 11 years, 6 months ago

"sleeping on the floors of crack houses, even though he said he didn't use drugs"

If you want to be taken seriously, don't insult our intelligence. Everything he said here points to "addiction", including his denial of having an addiction.

Q: How do you know an addict is lying?

A: His lips are moving.

redfred 11 years, 6 months ago

I thought boot camp was for non-violent offenders.

Nikki May 11 years, 6 months ago

Is he "non-violent" because no one was hurt?

ive_got_my_ascot_n_my_dickie 11 years, 6 months ago

Since he enjoys playing with guns, let him serve 36 months in Iraq.

Catherine Evans 11 years, 6 months ago

I remember a couple of years ago when an older gentleman tried to rob the downtown bank and everyone just felt awful for him that his life had so many terrible pressures. Was that just because he was old? Because he wasn't a young black man in Lawrence? Is it because of his age and race that we assume he is lying about sleeping on the floors of crack houses? Give me a break Lawrence. Whatever his story, not one of us really knows what it is and making the above judgement calls means that we are racist and elitist. How ridiculous and ignorant. But hey, we've come a long way toward equality here in Lawrence, huh?

MaryKatesPillStash 11 years, 6 months ago

I think boot camp would be better for ALL offenders, rather than just serving time.

daman 11 years, 6 months ago

boot camp is a great alternative for some offenders, the problem is when they fail and 80% of them do, they offender claims it wasn't their fault or they had some medical/physcial reason for failing and the court simply puts them on probation for the remainder of the twelve months. It's a joke. Stick a gun in someone's face you should go to prison plain and simple.

cowboy 11 years, 6 months ago

Boot camp is an industry ! In kansas it is basicly to provide jobs down in Labette. the kids do get a shock after going in but coming out , like most prison programs , they face the same issues they had before.

If this were designed to be effective it would be located in a metro area , tied to a vo-tech school , with specific follow-up to make the transition into work / community. The local county probation and parole services are ineffective for the most part. Its long past time for the corrections industry to start doing something that has an impact.

roger_o_thornhill 11 years, 6 months ago

Crime w/pistol=prison. Easy math. 36months or 52months. Hard math. Rethink prison system among other things. Seven million incarcerated this year. What isn't working?

Maybe if prisoners were treated like students in Texas public schools in 70s and 80s...Oh wait, that's the current model!

Kelly Powell 11 years, 6 months ago

Sillygirl....how are the commentors being racist or elitist? What if the guy had been some country fried white dude meth head? I bet you wouldnt of thrown the race card in if people called him a redneck or trailer trash....he got caught after he stuck a pistol into someones face and robbed the store....the color of his skin has absolutley no bearing whatsoever......but i do agree that bootcamp would be a more productive form of punishment then just straight time locked up.....

a2thek 11 years, 6 months ago

You mean to tell me that there are crack houses in Lawrence, no way. Come on, anyway lets be real here people, race or not that true fact is 83% of black men under the age of 18 never make it out of the ghetto and either end up in prison or murdered. Why is that? Oh yeah its the white race's fault, we didnt help them make better decisions in life. It all goes back to one thing, who was this boys father, oh yeah he probably is dead or locked up which means he cannot be to good of a role model if that is the case. I see the same thing with these boys when I talk to them, One, most of them dont want to talk to me because I am white. Two, always when I ask the ones that same question about where there daddy is I usually will get the same answer, dead or in prison. Some of them dont even know their daddy and have never met him. So thier role model tells them to be like daddy and its gets them heading right in the same direction. I have tried to be a invisible angel to some of these guys and I usually get the same reaction everytime, I got to get back to my other life, drop me off at this house- (crack)up here thanks for the ride and food. You see how all of this is just spinning around to the same old repeated patterns of behavior. I took a Socialogy class once and studied all this and it explains why everything is the way it is according to where you live, you family tree clear up to other years if violence is in your family it takes awhile for it to weed out and sometimes it never does. I also have picked up homeless people from the shelter taking them through drivethru's, fed them, no matter what they smelled like or skin color was and dropped them back off at the shelter. I also always drop off pizza's about every night or every other night that are extra's from the pizza place I work at to feed them. I do know the above guy isnt homeless yet it does sound like he is at the bottom of his barrel and on the last swing. One thing I have learned about the homeless and thugs is they are alot alike and I dont think they can hear or feel love that one is willing to give. Alot of them appear to always be on the take and not willing to give of course. The moral of all this chatter is when Jesus went around and saved and healed people I dont think he cared about who they were and what color they were or what they looking like or anything else. I think he saved their overall souls from the death of darkness. I think this kid needs someone to take him away from all the hatred that he feels inside or whatever it is and show him that its okay to feel like a man and not a coward and its okay to put the gun down and walk forward through life and dont look back at the demons chasing him from behind. See the hero and the coward are alot alike they both feel fear but one rises up to the occasion like a man and the other runs and never steps up.

mekojo 11 years, 6 months ago

Do what you want for the kid. He's not mine, I don't feed and clothe him! Oh, wait that must be the problem! Nobody apparently feeds this child. Oh, but not for long! We will all have paid for his boarding, food and clothing when he is LOCKED UP!! Right, idiots!! We should have cared for this child and paid attention to him before he became the amateur criminal!! Although you could all take action now to prevent this from reoccuring by volunteering in the local youth organizations. Volunteer to mentor a child, for a better future!! STOP THE CYCLE!!

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