Hold that Tiger! 35-year sentence
One of the most bizarre criminal cases in Rockdale history came to an end last week in 20th District Court when Judge Ed Magre sentenced 23-year-old Justin Tiger Thomas of Bryan to a 35-year prison term.
Thomas was convicted of the 2005 armed robbery of Gill’s Stop-N-Go in Rockdale.
He will have to serve at least half the 35- year sentence.
“Judge Magre ruled that because a weapon was used in the commission of this crime, the defendant must serve at least half the sentence before he becomes eligible for parole,” Dan Cervenka, assistant prosecutor, told The Reporter.
“Even that does not guarantee Mr. Thomas will get parole in 17-1/2 years, just that this is the first time he will become eligible,” Cervenka said.
Thomas was also ordered to pay $1,500 restitution, together with co-defendants.
Thomas was originally tried for the similar holdup of Sunny’s Convenience Store in Rockdale, which took place three days after the Gills’s holdup, but was acquitted.
PROBATION—Investigators believed Thomas and two other men participated in robberies at both Gill’s and Sunny Food Mart in Rockdale during the first week of November, 2006.
But in July, 2009, Thomas was acquitted of the Sunny’s holdup in a jury trial. Jurors disregarded the prosecution’s attempt to link shoes visible in surveillance video during the robbery with those worn by Thomas during his arrest in College Station one day later.
The prosecution also provided DNA evidence linking Thomas with a pair of gloves believed to have been worn in the holdup.
That was a verdict which didn’t sit well with law enforcement agencies who expressed shock and dismay.
One week later, Thomas pleaded guilty to the Gill’s robbery and was placed on deferred adjudication probation.
He was arrested in February in Brazos County on charges of evading arrest and theft and was returned to Milam County where his probation was revoked in March.
The two other men arrested in connection with the holdups are serving prison terms.
HOLDUPS—Witnesses told police two men wearing “hoodie” type sweatshirts, wearing white gloves and holding “doo-rags” over their faces entered Gill’s on Nov. 3, 2006, with one pointing what appeared to be a semiautomatic pistol at clerks and customers.
The pair made off with about $1,500.
Three days later w itnesses at Sunny’s told much the same story, that two men pointed what appeared to be a pistol at a female clerk and some customers and took about $4,000.
One day later, Thomas and Bryan residents Damion Jackson and Larry Johnson were detained after a 3-vehicle collision in College Station.
Jackson turned state’s evidence and testified against both Thomas and Johnson.
He drew a 15-year sentence. Johnson received 25 years.