CONYERS -- A 17-year-old Salem High School student was sentenced to 20 years, with 10 years to serve in state prison, for the armed robbery of a Conyers taxi driver in 2008.
Talore Blackford pleaded guilty before Chief Superior Court Judge Sidney Nation on Wednesday morning to armed robbery, two counts of aggravated assault and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime.
Blackford had a taxi driver take him to the robbery location where two other males robbed the taxi driver at gunpoint on Jan. 18, 2008.
The taxi driver's watch and $90 in cash were taken, according to court papers.
During a traffic stop Jan. 15, law enforcement found the shotgun in the trunk of the car of the two other males who committed last January's robbery.
Larry Garard and Tahje Vance Williams were both interviewed separately, according to court documents, and made "inculpating statements" that led to Blackford's arrest the next day.
Blackford was 16 years old at the time of the crime and had no prior criminal record.
Eldridge Suggs IV, Blackford's attorney, explained that Blackford was prepared with money to pay his taxi fare and did not want to be part of the armed robbery.
It was determined that Blackford was intimidated into committing the armed robbery.
"We're just contending he was not part of this robbery," Suggs said in court Wednesday.
Suggs said he appreciated the cooperation with the state in negotiating sentencing recommendations.
Nation said Blackford was smart for entering a guilty plea, considering a life sentence with no parole was likely if Blackford went to trial and was convicted of armed robbery.
Garard and Williams were tried in separate court cases and are awaiting sentencing.
In another court case, Nation extended some leniency toward a young man on his way to military college.
Marcus Lundy, 20, was riding in a car with approximately 2.5 ounces of marijuana and half a can of malt liquor when he was stopped by police on Dec. 31, 2008, according to court documents. Lundy fled on foot before he was arrested.
Lundy, a 2007 high school graduate, had no prior criminal record and was set to enroll in Georgia Military Academy.
"Are you ready to throw your life away, Mr. Lundy?" Nation asked.
Nation then explained to Lundy that possession of marijuana is a felony and it would be hard to ever get a job with a felony charge on his record.
Nation said he would let Lundy go, but keep his case open and "slide it under a rock for about a year."
After a year, the case would be disposed if Lundy did not get into any further trouble.
Nation warned Lundy to take advantage of the second chance, or "I'm going to put you under a rock."