Alexia Hudson screamed when she saw the gun-toting robber.
The robber’s head barely cleared the top of the tall gas station counter, but she could see the bandana across the face and the barrel of the gun poking over the lottery tickets.
“Please don’t point that gun at me,” Hudson pleaded as she opened the cash register and handed over the cash.
The robbery took only a matter of minutes, but it brought 20-year prison sentences Tuesday for the two Augusta residents implicated in the crime, Lorenzo Ishman and Demetra Campbell.
They pleaded guilty to charges from a 27-count indictment after a string of eight robberies or attempted robberies from Dec. 3 through Jan. 18. A court date was postponed for Denise Stokes, also of Augusta, who was described in court Tuesday as the lookout for the last two robberies, in which she has been indicted.
Assistant District Attorney Parks White said in court Tuesday that Ishman and Campbell embarked on a “crime spree”; they were indicted in a majority of the robberies. Campbell’s hair was much shorter then, and she frequently covered her face with a bandana, so several victims believed she was a man, White said. Campbell’s mother, Janice Campbell, pleaded for mercy from Superior Court Judge James Blanchard citing, in part, her 3-month-old grandson. Campbell, 20, gave birth in September while she was in jail, Janice Campbell said.
Blanchard said that he was moved by her words but that there are “certain things I must do, painful as it is,” before sentencing Campbell to 20 years in prison, followed by 20 years on probation. The negotiated sentence matched Ishman’s, except Ishman, 20, is not eligible for parole.
On the night of Jan. 14, Hudson was closing up for the night at the Raceway on Peach Orchard Road, beside Interstate 520, when the robbery occurred. It was one of three crimes within 90 minutes that night, according to court records. The same night, there were attempted robberies at Circle K at Walton Way and Ninth Street and at the Milledgeville Convenience Store on Milledgeville Road, close to Deans Bridge Road.
Sang Pak was closing up the Milledgeville Road store when he was approached by a bandana-masked robber and a single-barrel shotgun.
“Give me your wallet,” the robber demanded.
“You’ll have to shoot (me),” Pak replied, pulling the chain off his neck and stepping toward the robber.
The robber stepped backward, then ran toward apartments behind the store.
Pak said he wasn’t frightened. The last time he was held up at the store was not long after he opened it in 1999. That robber didn’t even have the safety off the weapon, Pak said.
Richmond County sheriff’s Investigator Chris Langford said the last three robberies, on Jan. 17 and 18, cracked the case. Good descriptions of the robbers and their vehicle were broadcast to patrol deputies the night of Jan. 17, when a Family Dollar and a Kangaroo Express were robbed, Langford said.
The suspects were seen by deputies after the Jan. 18 robbery of a Shell station on Wheeler Road. The getaway vehicle was found in the yard, and the suspects were arrested without a fight, Langford said. After that, investigators were able to link the other robberies based on confessions from the suspects and descriptions of the robbers, Langford said.
Hudson said it was hard returning to work at the Raceway station in January.
“I was really shook up and scared,” she said. “It took awhile for things to get back to normal.”