Robbery suspect sentenced

Lewis

A Marshalltown man convicted of robbing a local convenience store late last year, as well as other charges, has been sentenced to 15 years in prison.

On Monday in Marshall County District Court, Judge James Ellefson sentenced Johnqwez Lewis, 19, to serve 15 years plus 200 days in prison for his role in a Dec. 10 robbery of the Git & Go convenience store on Center Street, as well as a probation violation on a previous willful injury conviction and for being on the run for a couple of months when he did not report back to a local halfway house.

On the three counts related to the Git & Go robbery — third degree robbery, felon with a firearm and second-degree theft — the judge decided the robbery and theft convictions would be served concurrently for five years. But the firearm conviction (another five years), Judge Ellefson argued, changed the complexion of the case and that the sentence should be served consecutively, yielding 10 years total to that point.

The court also added five years for the willful injury conviction as well as 200 days for the voluntary absence from the halfway house, bringing Lewis’ sentenced to 15 years plus an additional 200 days.

Marshall County Assistant County Attorney Jim Sheetz told the court that Lewis had been given many opportunities to chart a new course after a checkered past as a juvenile and then run-ins with the law after turning 18.

After pleading guilty last year to willful injury in an assault against another person, Sheetz pointed out that Lewis received probation and subsequently was placed in a halfway house.

“We decided to take another chance on Mr. Lewis,” he said.

But Sheetz said when Lewis failed to return to halfway house, and while still on the run, made the decision to engage in an armed robbery of the Git & Go convenience store, significant prison time was warranted.

“He is choosing a lifestyle …, “ Sheetz said. “He is not amenable to being responsible. We need to protect the community from Mr. Lewis.”

Defense Attorney Michael Marquess conceded Lewis had made mistakes and that a stint in prison would be the best option, but he and Lewis were hoping that the sentences would run concurrently and not consecutively.

He argued that Lewis was “a very young man with significant drug and alcohol problems and an unstable home life.”

Marquess said when Lewis robbed the convenience store, he was under the influence of narcotics, and said while prison might be the best option, to serve a lengthy prison would be “purely punitive.”

“I am not a bad person,” Lewis said in court, acknowledging his mistakes. “I accept full responsibility for everything I’ve done. I’m ready to accept the consequences and do whatever it takes to come home.”

Rochelle Marie Hernandez, 34, of Marshalltown, who was working as a clerk at the Git & Go the night of the robbery, was previously sentenced to two years probation and a suspended prison sentence for being an accessory to a felony.

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Contact Jeff Hutton at 641-753-6611 or jhutton@timesrepublican.com