YOUNGSTOWN - A victim in a robbery at a North Side Dairy Queen in August asked one of the robbers Tuesday if it was worth it.
Ashley Santiago told Mahoning County Common Pleas Court Judge R. Scott Krichbaum during the sentencing of 21-year-old Brian Simmons that he has scarred her for life. Santiago said she is afraid to even go outside and is fearful of other people.
''Was it worth ruining his life and my life as well?'' Santiago said. ''I don't understand. I'm fearful now of everything and everyone. I can't walk down the street and feel safe anymore. I just want to know if that's worth it.''
Simmons did not have an answer for her, but apologized to her later in the proceedings.
Krichbaum called the crime ''evil.''
''This is despicable,'' Krichbaum said before sentencing Simmons to 10 years in prison.
Simmons pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated robbery with a specification that a firearm was used to commit the crime for the Aug. 12 robbery of the Dairy Queen on Belmont Avenue. Assistant prosecutor Martin Desmond said Simmons and two juveniles waited until the shop closed and then herded Santiago and a co-worker inside at gunpoint and took cash and a cell phone.
Simmons was on community control at the time for an earlier receiving stolen property case. In exchange for the plea, prosecutors recommended two four-year sentences on the robbery charges, to run concurrently, along with three years for the firearm specification charge for a total of seven years, plus an additional year for the probation violation.
Instead, after pausing for a moment, Krichbaum handed down two three-year sentences to be served consecutively for the robbery charge, along with three for the firearm specification and a year for the probation violation, all to be served consecutively.
The status of the two juveniles is unclear, but defense attorney Miriam Ocasio said that when Simmons was arrested, he immediately confessed and told police who helped him.
Santiago said she has lost her faith in people since the robbery, but Krichbaum told her he hopes someday she will be to see the good in people.
''I urge you to try and not feel that way,'' Krichbaum said. ''If I gave up my faith in my fellow human beings, I wouldn't last too long.''