One assailant had a shotgun barrel pointed at the victim's face.
By BOB JACKSON
VINDICATOR COURTHOUSE REPORTER
YOUNGSTOWN -- Pam Midkiff wasn't surprised when she thought she heard firecrackers going off while sitting in the South Side Civics club. After all, it was the Fourth of July.
But when she turned to see what was going on, it wasn't a celebration that she saw and she realized it wasn't firecrackers she'd heard.
"I looked over my shoulder and there were two guys in ski masks with guns right behind me," she told Judge R. Scott Krichbaum of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court.
Midkiff, of Youngstown, was one of several people in the club that night when three men came in to rob it last summer.
Sentencing: One of the men, 17-year-old Edward Brandon of East Boston Avenue, was sentenced to 18 years in prison Thursday. Midkiff addressed the judge before sentencing.
Brandon pleaded guilty in December to eight counts of aggravated robbery and two counts of felonious assault for his role in a rash of robberies and shootings on the city's South Side, including the one at the South Side Civics.
A co-defendant, Jawaun Phifer, 17, of Roxbury Avenue, pleaded guilty to the same charges and was sentenced in February to 23 years in prison. Another co-defendant, Kenneth Rodgers, 17, of East Indianola Avenue, is awaiting trial on similar charges.
What witness said: Midkiff said she ran behind the bar to hide when she saw the armed robbers. One of them followed her, put a shotgun against her face and demanded her money, she said.
When Midkiff said she didn't have any money, another woman got up from behind the bar, took the cash drawer out of the cash register and gave it to one of the robbers.
As they were walking away, one of the men fired a shot toward the back of the bar, Midkiff said. The shot struck Diane Nail of Youngstown, who was running into a bathroom to hide.
Nail was sick Thursday, so she could not testify. But before Phifer's sentencing in February, she said the shotgun blast tore through her left shoulder, leaving her unable to use her left arm now.
What judge said: Judge Krichbaum commended Midkiff for the way she attended to Nail after the assailants left the club.
"Even though you had suffered through this horrendous crime, you stepped over to help somebody who had suffered an even worse crime," he said.
Brandon apologized to the victims and to his family. Defense attorney Ted Macejko Jr. said none of the boys intended to shoot anyone when they entered the club that night.
"It was a nonthinking, momentary event meant to prevent people from running around inside the bar," he said.
Judge Krichbaum said he thinks the crimes deserved more prison time, but he stuck with a plea agreement reached between Macejko and assistant prosecutor Patrick R. Pochiro.