You choose, we deliver
If you are interested in this story, you might be interested in others from The Journal Gazette. Go to www.journalgazette.net/newsletter and pick the subjects you care most about. We'll deliver your customized daily news report at 3 a.m. Fort Wayne time, right to your email.

Courts

Advertisement

20-year sentence issued in jewelry-store robbery

Smith

A Fort Wayne man received a 20-year prison sentence Monday for playing a role in a jewelry-store heist that left another man badly injured.

Theron A. Smith, 20, apologized to the husband and wife who own Do's Jewelers during a brief hearing in Allen Superior Court.

"My apologies go to the victims and loved ones," he said.

Smith previously admitted to being one of two armed men who entered the jewelry store, located at 2809 E. State Blvd., in June.

He pleaded guilty to one count of robbery last month as part of a plea agreement with Allen County prosecutors that called for him to receive a 25-year sentence, with five of those years suspended.

Judge John F. Surbeck accepted the plea agreement Monday, which also called for charges of battery, criminal recklessness and pointing a firearm against Smith to be dropped.

According to court papers, Aithuan Nguyen-Do, the owner, stepped outside the morning of the robbery to give mail to a mail carrier.

As she came back inside, Smith and another man followed her, shoving a gun against her head and yelling: "Where's the money? Where are the safe keys?"

She gave the men the keys, but when they opened the safe they found it empty. They also tried unsuccessfully to break the glass jewelry case, according to court documents.

The men also fought with the owner's 54-year-old husband, Rang Q. Do, striking him in the head and face with a handgun.

During the struggle, a shot was fired, but no one was hurt.

Smith and the other man, identified by investigators as 20-year-old Carl L. Johnson Jr., got into a Chevrolet Blazer driven by a man identified as 18-year-old Stafford A. Staples Jr.

Johnson and Staples were also arrested and charged with various crimes.

Staples pleaded guilty to aiding in robbery, but has yet to be sentenced. Johnson is awaiting trial on counts of robbery causing injury, battery and criminal recklessness.

Allen County Deputy Prosecutor Jason Custer said the victims of the crime were very helpful to investigators throughout the entire process.

He said the Dos were immigrants living the American dream and had started their own business, only to have this happen to them.

Michelle Kraus, Smith's defense attorney, told Surbeck and the court Monday that her client had accepted responsibility for his actions, and referred to a letter he had written to the judge personally.

"I think what he displayed in that letter is who he really is," she said. "A kid ashamed of what's he done."

Surbeck concurred, and then accepted Smith's plea deal.

jeffwiehe@jg.net

Advertisement