A Leonardtown man was sentenced this week to four years for committing robbery after an incident last year, along with an additional one and a half years for two assault charges.
Demitri Raymond Gardiner, 25, was arrested last September without bond after he was accused of armed robbery at a convenience store in the town, where court papers state an employee was shoved into a table.
The employee at the Dash-In business followed her assailant outside that night and watched him get into a car, with a registration tag number that police researched to identify Gardiner, 24 at the time, as the vehicle’s owner, according to a charges application filed by St. Mary’s sheriff’s detective Cpl. Trevor J. Teague. The store’s “video surveillance [was] obtained,” court papers state, “and the individual who robbed the store is clearly [the] defendant.”
Store employees told police that the robber “implied he had a gun and demanded money” from one store worker, the court papers state, before “he stole an unknown amount of money from the register” and assaulted the other employee as he went toward the door.
Gardiner was arrested with the assistance of the Prince George’s County Police Department.
The defendant pleaded guilty to a felony robbery charge and a second-degree assault misdemeanor charge in April of this year.
Before his hearing began, Gardiner’s defense attorney, Joshua Tarr, requested the court also address a December jail fight incident, which Gardiner pleaded guilty to in April. Court records state the fight resulted in a second-degree assault charge.
St. Mary’s Senior Assistant State’s Attorney Daniel White said Gardiner’s actions last September did not express any remorse and noted that he has been in and out of the system. “It just has to stop,” he said.
White said during the robbery Gardiner punched a woman, the store employee, in the face and beat her up.
“He deserves a punishment for that and our community needs to know when that happens, we need to do something about it,” White said.
Tarr said he agrees with a lot of what the state said, but mentioned a few other details.
“He went in there without a mask,” Tarr said. “That to me means a cry for help.” He said Gardiner does not deny he did something wrong and he knew he was going to be caught. He added that his client took advantage of the programs offered to him in jail like anger management, obtaining his GED and taking parenting classes to help raise his siblings.
He also said, while incarcerated, Gardiner discovered he had mental health issues.
“I know he’s not going home today … but what I’m asking for [is] that he receives no more than 18 months,” Tarr said. He also requested his client stay in local the local jail. “I don’t believe he’s going to appear before the judge again.”
Gardiner was offered the opportunity to speak, but chose not to.
“Frankly, I don’t believe local time is appropriate for robbery,” St. Mary’s Circuit Judge Micheal J. Stamm said.
He sentenced Gardiner to four years in the department of corrections for the robbery, one year for the second-degree assault and six months for the jail assault.
“The community is probably better off with you not being here,” Stamm said. “I’m very disappointed you wouldn’t even apologize to the victim or to your family.”