“Every one of those people could have been killed,” Judge Michael N. Annis said of Robinson’s victims on April 15, 2011.
Robinson, 37, pleaded guilty in Richmond County Superior Court to most of the 21 criminal charges he faced, including armed robbery, hijacking a motor vehicle, criminal damage to property, and weapon and traffic offenses.
The judge imposed a 35-year prison sentence, joining some sentences and stacking others to ensure that Robinson serves 20 years before he becomes eligible for parole.
Robinson had a history of stealing and was sentenced to prison for a South Carolina strong-arm robbery in 2008, Assistant District Attorney John Markwalter told the judge.
The 2011 incident began about lunchtime at Augusta Mall. Robinson walked up and pulled a gun on James Wells, taking his cash and cellphone, the prosecutor said Wednesday. Sheriff’s deputies had already been dispatched to the mall when Robinson crossed paths with Robert Ford. Robinson snatched Ford from his work van and took off, fleeing a sheriff’s deputy in a marked car as ladders and other materials broke free from the van and crashed on the street, Markwalter said. Robinson collided with three other vehicles between the mall and the intersection of Wrightsboro Road and Capps Street, where he could no longer run.
He had been released from prison less than two months earlier and immediately fell in with a group that cooked methamphetamine and stayed high every day, defense attorney Travers Chance said. Robinson and Tyler Jones committed robberies to support their habit.
After the crime spree, what happened next led to more chaos, Chance said. Jones’ father, lawyer Sidney “Chuck” Jones, offered to represent Robinson for free and smuggled tobacco and marijuana inside the Richmond County jail in hopes Robinson would take the fall for the Aiken robberies his son committed.
Robinson cooperated with Richmond County detectives, and Jones’ father was arrested. Chuck Jones pleaded guilty to 11 misdemeanor counts and received probation. He has since been disbarred in South Carolina. Tyler Jones was convicted of robbery in South Carolina and sentenced to 22 years in prison.