Originally created 06/30/00

Youth sentenced to 10 years



AIKEN - A Belvedere boy who put a gun to the head of a local restaurant owner at age 14 was sentenced Thursday to 10 years in prison.

Ishmail Norid-Deen, now 16, was surrounded by family members and juvenile officials when he pleaded guilty to robbing Edmunds Bar-B-Que in Belvedere and trying to kill the owner.

Prosecutors say the 9 mm pistol jammed when the boy put it to the head of restaurant owner Phyllis Edmunds and pulled the trigger May 28, 1998. Investigators found a bullet that had been ejected onto the restaurant floor and one stuck in the gun's chamber.

Ms. Edmunds was not injured in the attack, but it caused her to have heart problems that required hospitalization.

"You came right to the very edge of taking away your life and the life of the person you robbed," Circuit Judge Thomas Cooper Jr. told Mr. Norid-Deen in court.

When the teen-ager gets out of jail, he must serve five years' probation and stay out of trouble or face another 10 years in jail.

The solicitor's office decided to prosecute Mr. Norid-Deen as an adult because of the seriousness of the charges - armed robbery and assault and battery with intent to kill.

Christopher Smith of Belvedere was an accomplice in the robbery. The pair walked into the side door of the restaurant and approached Ms. Edmunds as she watched television. They demanded money and forced her to put $500 from the cash register into a bag. After trying to shoot her, the pair forced her into a side room and left.

Mr. Smith, who was 17 at the time, pleaded guilty in August 1998 to armed robbery and received a 10-year sentence. He is now 20.

In court Thursday, defense attorney Elmer Hatcher told the judge Mr. Norid-Deen had a rough childhood with little or no discipline. The boy was smoking marijuana, drinking alcohol and getting into trouble at an early age.

The boy's mother, Valerie Diggins, told the judge her son could be rehabilitated.

"I don't believe that he is a throw-away child," she said. "I do believe he can be salvaged and can be a benefit to society."

Reach Greg Rickabaugh at (803) 279-6895.