GREENVILLE — Ishmael Luster, age 16, pleaded guilty to charges of aggravated robbery, a first-degree felony carrying penalties of up to 11 years in prison and a possible $20,000 fine, in Darke County Common Pleas Court Tuesday morning, less than two hours after a jury was empaneled to hear evidence in his scheduled trial. Judge Jonathan P. Hein presided.
Judge Hein, Assistant Prosecutor Deborah Quigley and defense attorney Michael Walton questioned prospective jurors in the case for more than two hours Tuesday morning. Shortly before breaking for lunch, Walton told the court that he’d had difficulty communicating with his client over the past several days, including for the purposes of presenting him with a plea agreement offered by the prosecutor, because of alleged interference by the defendant’s family. Upon resuming session later in the afternoon, it was revealed that a plea agreement had been reached with Luster pleading guilty to the aggravated robbery charge and associated firearm specification.
Luster is one of the perpetrators of the Walgreens robbery that took place in Greenville on Jan. 6 of this year. Four juveniles, including Luster, were reported to be involved in the incident, in which one young man waited outside in a van while three others went inside the store. Luster and one of the other men, brandishing firearms, then jumped the pharmacy counter, forced the pharmacist and a pharmacy tech to the floor and proceeded to rob the establishment at gunpoint.
The firearm specification stipulates that a gun was “used, displayed or brandished” during commission of the crime, which adds a mandatory three-year prison sentence on top of any additional penalties that may be imposed by the judge. Prosecutor Quigley and defense attorney Walton jointly recommended a six-year prison sentence, three for the gun charge and three for the robbery, to be served consecutively. The judge agreed and handed down the proposed sentence.
Antwan Thompson, age 18, of Indianapolis, was the driver during the Jan. 6 incident, remaining in the van while the other three perpetrators went inside. He pleaded guilty under similar terms last week and also was sentenced to consecutive three-year terms with the stipulation that the judge agree to consider an application for judicial release after three-and-a-half years.
A third co-conspirator, who attempted to distract the clerk at the front of the store while the robbery took place, pleaded guilty in juvenile court last week. He’ll be sentenced in juvenile court in Allen County at a later date.
The trial of a fourth suspect is set to begin May 22.