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WARREN Days into trial, accused pleads guilty to robbery



Published: Fri, August 3, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



The store owner said he hopes the defendant uses the time in prison to 'get rehabilitated.'

By PEGGY SINKOVICH

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

WARREN -- Shortly after testifying in his own defense, an 18-year-old city man decided to admit he robbed a city music store.

Lamar Mitchell of Warren pleaded guilty Thursday to a charge of aggravated robbery. He robbed RBG Music at 1958 Palmyra Road S.W. on Dec. 20.

Judge Andrew Logan of Trumbull County Common Pleas Court sentenced Mitchell to six years in prison. He could have received up to 10 years, officials said.

Mitchell's plea ended his jury trial, which began Monday. He declined to say why he decided to plead guilty.

Mitchell's attorney, Michael Scala, started presenting the defense Thursday. Mitchell had said that he was set up and that several men threatened to harm his daughter if he didn't rob the store.

Mitchell was 17 at the time of the robbery. A juvenile court judge granted a prosecutor's request in February to have Mitchell tried as an adult.

Shot by store owner: The store owner, James "Doc" Pugh, 54, then head of the local NAACP, shot Mitchell in the buttocks.

Police Chief John Mandopoulos said Pugh "acted appropriately." Pugh has not been charged.

Pugh told the judge before sentencing that he hopes Mitchell uses his time in prison to "get rehabilitated."

Victim's testimony: Pugh has testified in previous court hearings that Mitchell entered his store and asked him for a tape. After Pugh got the tape for him, Mitchell placed a gun against Pugh's head.

Pugh said he tried to wrestle with Mitchell but fell to the ground. He said that after he fell, he told Mitchell he would get the money for him. Pugh said he went behind the counter to get the cash but instead got his gun.

The store owner said Mitchell attempted to run but he caught him. Pugh said he told Mitchell to pull his pants down around his boots so that Mitchell would not be able to run while Pugh went to telephone police.

Pugh said he was helping Mitchell get his pants down when the gun accidentally went off. Mitchell was not seriously injured.




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