Robbers get 20 years in prison

When they ran out of beer money William N. Dalzell and Julian F. Durden thought robbery would be the answer. Shooting at pursuing police officers eventually became part of the escape attempt after the November robbery.

On Friday in Richmond County Superior Court, Mr. Dalzell, 23, and Mr. Durden, 21, pleaded guilty to two counts armed robbery, four counts aggravated assault on a police officer, and a single count each of fleeing or attempting to elude a police officer and interference with government property.

Judge Sheryl B. Jolly accepted the plea negotiation and sentenced each to 20 years in prison followed by 10 years on probation.

Assistant District Attorney Al Corey said the caper began the evening of Nov. 1 when the pair ran out of money and still wanted beer.

They decided to rob a Golden Pantry in south Augusta. Mr. Dalzell and Mr. Durden got $80 during the armed robbery.

For the second robbery, they ended up at the Huddle House in Waynesboro. Leaving town with $95 more, they saw a police car in pursuit. Mr. Dalzell fired at the officer as Mr. Durden drove, Mr. Corey said.

On Georgia Highway 56, Richmond County sheriff's deputies joined the chase and Mr. Dalzell fired at them also, Mr. Corey said.

No officer was injured, but the gunshots caused about $2,000 in damage.

Mr. Durden evaded the officers but crashed his truck in a ditch.

The pair fled to Alabama, breaking into one house and stealing cars along the way. They returned to Augusta and dumped their last vehicle at the Lock and Dam. They turned themselves in Nov. 5.

Defense attorneys Michael G. Garrett and Travers Chance were at a loss to explain their clients' actions.

They suspected alcohol was a major contributing factor.

Neither Mr. Durden nor Mr. Dalzell had an answer, only apologies.

"I wished it had never happened," Mr. Durden said.

Reach Sandy Hodson at (706) 823-3226 or sandy.hodson@augustachronicle.com.