By Wendy Holdren
A 34-year-old Raleigh County man was sentenced by Raleigh County Circuit Judge H.L. Kirkpatrick to serve 10 years for his part in an armed robbery last May.
As part of a plea agreement, Kenneth Lee Hardy, of Stotesbury, initially agreed to plead guilty to one count of robbery and serve a flat term of 10 years and the charge of conspiracy to commit a felony would be dropped.
When Kirkpatrick asked Hardy how he wanted to plead, Hardy said, “Guilty by associate.”
Kirkpatrick asked him to explain what he meant and he replied that it was not his intent to rob the store. He claimed that the co-defendant, Jackie Lee Christian, was the one who robbed the Little General in Glen Daniel.
Hardy said he thought Christian had been joking about the robbery, but when the event actually took place, he did not take any of the proceeds from the store and left the location on foot.
Kirkpatrick explained that after hearing Hardy’s account of the events, a trial may be in his best interest.
The court took a short recess for the defendant to discuss his options with public defender Eric Shuck.
When court reconvened, Hardy said he would like to enter a Kennedy plea, meaning that he does not deny what happened, but he believes he is innocent.
Kirkpatrick said he was still unsure why Hardy would not want to go to trial; Hardy said he was afraid he would be sentenced for a time greater than the 10 year agreement.
“I feel it’s in my best interest to go ahead with this plea,” Hardy said. “I’m just trying to be cautious.”
Assistant prosecuting attorney Andy Dimlich said if the case were to go to trial, the state would present witness testimonies that the two defendants were “acting suspicious” prior to the robbery, as well as testimony from the co-defendant who places the blame on Hardy.
Judge Kirkpatrick accepted the plea agreement and sentenced Hardy to serve a flat term of 10 years in prison and gave him credit for the time he has already spent at Southern Regional Jail. Hardy was also ordered to pay restitution.
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