3 sentenced in robbery that's terrorized child

By Peter Milliken




Three young men are going to prison for a minimum of 31/2 years for the armed robbery of a beverage drive-through worker they had followed home from his job.

That’s the earliest Brian A. Collins, Wilburn F. Jones and Sylvestry E. Gibbs will be eligible for judicial release.

But Rebecca L. Doherty, an assistant Mahoning County prosecutor, said she’ll oppose judicial release for them and wants them to serve their full prison terms “because of the gravity of this crime and the fact that a firearm was used.”

Gibbs, 19, of Aldrich Road, a former Austintown Fitch High School football standout, who Doherty said was likely the gunman, drew a seven-year prison term Wednesday from Judge Lou A. D’Apolito of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court.

With his conviction and prison term, he’ll forfeit a college football scholarship, Doherty said, adding that she isn’t sure which college granted the scholarship.

Collins, 21, of Shields Road, and Jones, 20, of Staatz Drive, each drew six-year prison sentences for the October 2009 robbery.

Collins, Jones and Gibbs, who apologized in court for their crime, had earlier pleaded guilty to aggravated robbery with a firearm specification.

All three must serve the three-year firearm specification in full before they begin serving their three and four-year terms for the underlying aggravated robbery. All will be on parole for five years after they leave prison.

The trio followed the 25-year-old victim to his door at Compass West apartments in Austintown, Doherty said. With Collins waiting in the car, Jones and Gibbs went to the victim’s second floor apartment wearing hooded sweat shirts and ski masks, she added.

One robber held a gun to the victim’s head, and both threatened to kill the victim if he didn’t let them into his apartment, the victim told police.

The victim’s fianc e and her daughter were inside the apartment as the robbery was occurring, Doherty said.

After the victim gave them $50 from his pocket, the robbers ran outside, the victim told police.

When police stopped the get-away car shortly thereafter on Elmwood Avenue, Jones and Gibbs fled on foot, but Collins, who was driving, remained in the car and was arrested immediately, Doherty said.

“Thank God nobody was harmed physically, but we got harmed emotionally and mentally. I don’t trust the world anymore. I don’t feel safe coming home anymore,” the victim told the judge.

“I really thought we were all going to die that night ... it is hard for us to get to sleep at night. My daughter blocks her window with toys to keep the bad guys out,” the victim’s fianc e told the judge.

“A home is a castle. When you’re in that home, you should not have to fear that someone’s going to disturb you or your family,” Judge D’Apolito said before imposing the sentences.

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