Robbers sentenced

Published 10:24 am Wednesday, June 8, 2011

COURTLAND—Two Suffolk men were sentenced Tuesday for charges related to the 2008 armed robbery of a Franklin-area man.

Lavert Mitchell was sentenced to a total of 16 years in prison for his role in the Oct. 17 robbery. Deonta Norman was sentenced to 11 years in prison and both defendants will pay $630 in restitution.

Prosecutors said the men robbed a Southampton Meadows Mobile Home Park resident with shotguns before leading a deputy from the Southampton County Sheriff’s Office on a chase into Franklin and then trying to escape on foot.

Mitchell claimed his innocence throughout the appearance Tuesday.

“I was there, but I didn’t do the crime,” said Mitchell, whose sentence was longer due to a criminal history described as “extensive” by Commonwealth’s Attorney Eric Cooke. “I’m not a bad guy; I just got caught up.”

Cooke asked for the high end of the state guidelines on sentencing for Mitchell, which called for a 22-year sentence. Mitchell’s attorney Paul Fitzinger asked the court to consider a lighter sentence for his client, given that he has two children at home.

“He’s throwing himself on the mercy of the court,” Fitzinger said of his client.

Cooke asked for a sentence similar to Mitchell’s for the co-defendant Norman and said the high end sentencing guidelines for him at six to nine years was not sufficient. Alvin Lockerman, Norman’s attorney, asked the court to consider Norman’s criminal record, which consisted of no adult felonies, as part of the sentencing process.

“Mr. Norman is 22 years old, 16 years would be almost more time than he’s been on this Earth,” Lockerman said.

Norman spoke in court and apologized to the victim.

“I know I made a lot of bad decisions, but I’ve decided to change my life,” Norman said. “I want to apologize for what he had to go through. He deserves justice.”

Norman said he had no part in the robbery, but apologized to his family as well.