WARREN - A judge called Jacquavis Williams a career criminal with no genuine remorse before sentencing him Wednesday to 20 years behind bars for robbing and shooting a Warren grocery store owner in 2011.
Trumbull County Common Pleas Judge W. Wyatt McKay explained that he found no reason to merge sentences on convictions for felonious assault and aggravated robbery. He handed down consecutive sentences of seven years on each of the two charges and separate three-year firearm specifications on each charge.
''He has already served two prior prison terms and has a poor juvenile record,'' McKay said after hearing Williams, his mother and a local pastor plead for mercy.
Mohammad Darwish gives an impact statement during Jacquavis Williams' sentencing.
The 22-year-old Warren man apologized for pounding on the defense table in the courtroom to the point of breaking it when a jury returned guilty verdicts March 15 after a weeklong trial.
''I have a heart. I feel for him and his family,'' Williams said, referring to Mohammad Darwish, the owner of North End Market who was shot and robbed April 12, 2011.
''I haven't even touched my daughter. I want to go home,'' Williams said in tears and before insisting that he had nothing to do with the holdup and shooting.
Tribune Chronicle / Christopher Bobby
Jacquavis Williams, center, is shown Wednesday in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court with sheriff’s Deputy Dominic Massary, left, and defense attorney Matt Pentz. Williams was sentenced to 20 years behind bars for robbing and shooting a Warren grocery store owner in 2011.
Assistant county prosecutor Chris Becker was quick to point out that Williams was offered the chance to take a polygraph exam to clear himself and that he refused. ''I would have dismissed the charges if he passed the exam,'' Becker said, while asking for the consecutive sentences.
Williams' attorney Matt Pentz objected to the consecutive sentences, arguing that both charges were part of the same act and should merge for purposes of sentencing.
Williams' mother, Jacqueline Joyce, who held her son's five-month-old daughter throughout most of the trial and in the courtroom Wednesday, also cried after hearing the sentence.
Without a full confession or a positive identification on Williams and without any evidence of a gun used to shoot Darwish, the jury linked the defendant to the robbery-shooting through DNA evidence found on a plastic bottle of sports drink.
Darwish, 59, who has operated the market on North Park Avenue for 18 years, admitted there is still a little fear every time he opens up his business every day. He still has pain in his left hand that still shows the injuries from the bullet that pierced his hand then went into his stomach.
''I came to this country at the young age of 21 to make a living in a country full of opportunities, which happens to be the same age as Mr. Williams, but I chose a different path. I chose to work very hard to provide for my family and helped put my kids through college,'' Darwish said in an impact statement before the sentencing.
''Mr. Williams came into my store with the intent of doing whatever it took to rob me. He didn't give me a chance. He didn't think about the fact that I have a family who I love and care about so much. He left the store not knowing if I was going to live or die and didn't look back. All he wanted was money and it didn't matter to him if he had to kill for it or not,'' he said.
Darwish, at trial, testified that he never got a good look at the robber who ordered the Blue Guzzler sports drink along with some chips and a Black and Mild cigar. Darwish said he turned to get the cigar and ''bang'' he was shot and then ordered to turn over cash from two registers.
His wife had just arrived at the store that morning and after seeing her bloodied husband from her car called 911 and drove to the rear of the store to try to see where the bandit ran off.
Williams had remained in Trumbull County Jail in lieu of $250,000 bond since his arrest Aug. 17.
The key piece of evidence showed up when Williams' DNA matched the sample on file with the state's Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) database that stores samples of all convicted felons.