Getaway driver in robberies is sentenced

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HANCOCK COUNTY — The last of four Indianapolis teenagers originally charged with robbing two Hancock County gas stations in July 2018 was sentenced for his crimes Wednesday.

Joseph Avery Holmes. 17, Lawrence, who admitted to being the driver of the getaway car, was sentenced to nine years in prison for each of two Level 3 felony armed robbery charges. He will serve only a portion of that behind bars, however.

The terms will run concurrently, with five years suspended by Judge Terry Snow in Hancock County Superior Court 1. Three of the four years in the plea agreement will be executed through the Indiana Department of Corrections. Holmes will spend the last year of his term in the Hancock County Community Corrections work release program. After that, he will either work or be sentenced to home detention for a year. He also faces three years of probation.

With time served and time off for good behavior, and if he gets his GED, which would eliminate six months of his sentence, he could be released in June 2020.

The sentence was considered lenient for the young man, whose father told the judge he had never been in trouble before the gas station robberies.

“He’s got a chance — that’s what he’s got,” said deputy prosecutor Kevin Kelly. “We’ll see if it takes it.”

Prior to the sentencing, Snow asked Holmes, who was a student at Lawrence Central High School and had a promising high school basketball career in front of him, why he made such a bad decision to take part in the robberies.

“What caused you to do such a bone-headed thing?” the judge asked.

The teen never answered the judge’s question directly, but did tell Snow he was just going along with the others and admitted to making what he called a “stupid” decision.

“I wasn’t thinking at the moment,” Holmes said. “I was young.”

The boy’s father told the judge his son lacked for nothing and didn’t need the money the teens got from the robberies. He said he and his son were preparing to go to Florida to take part in an Amateur Athletic Union basketball tourney before the robberies.

Holmes was part of a group of four teens who entered the Speedway gas station at Mt. Comfort Road and U.S. 40 on July 16, 2018, and demanded money from the clerk. Investigators say about 10 minutes later, the same group of boys entered the Circle K at Interstate 70 and Mt. Comfort Road and threatened the employee there, as well.

The robbers made off with about $400 total and dozens of cigars and packs of cigarettes, court documents showed.

Police stopped the teens’ car on Interstate 70 at the State Road 9 exit. The vehicle matched a description of the robbers’ car given by a witness. The teens inside matched the description of the robbers, and they were taken into custody.

The other teens in the case, William Dodd, 18, Indianapolis, was sentenced in May to nine years for two Level 3 felony charges of armed robbery with five years suspended. Dodd is spending three years in prison; the fourth year will be served through Hancock County Community Corrections.

Dalyn Marshan Whitfield, 18, Indianapolis, has also already agreed to a plea deal. Whitfield received the same sentence as Dodd, nine years with five years suspended for two Level 3 felony charges of armed robbery.

Charges against the fourth person were dismissed.