Local robber gets ‘lighter’ than usual prison term

DA: problems with suspect ID, witness statements led to deal

A Peachtree City man was sentenced Dec. 12 to five years in prison for robbing three local convenience stores this summer by pretending to wield a weapon underneath his clothes.

District Attorney Scott Ballard acknowledged that the negotiated plea deal for Clayton Wallace Thomas, 26, of Valley View Drive is lighter than customarily handed down in Fayette County for such a major felony.

However, there were some issues with the case that could have posed a problem at trial, all of which were mitigating factors in the plea deal, Ballard said. Two of the witnesses had some problem identifying Thomas and another witness had given conflicting statements during the investigation, Ballard said.

“Two of the witnesses’ identity testimony was going to be a little bit weak,” Ballard said.

Following prison, Thomas must serve an additional five years on probation, according to the sentence.

In addition to the lighter prison term, two other armed robbery counts were dismissed. Also dismissed was a separate charge of theft by taking stemming from a separate incident in which Thomas was accused of stealing more than $4,000 in items from a Peachtree City home and then pawning them. Among the stolen items were jewelry and electronics.

The plea deal, which was reduced to one count of robbery, requires Thomas to complete a residential drug treatment program while in prison and pay a $750 fine.

According to court documents, when Thomas held up the Flash Foods on Crosstown Drive June 29 and the Pit Stop on Petrol Point the next day, he got away with not just currency but a thirst-quenching bottle of Gatorade. When he struck the Flash Foods on Gingercake Road July 2, he only got money, reports indicated.

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