Intelligencer Journal/Lancaster New Era
Jurors convict men of robbery
BY BRETT HAMBRIGHT, Staff Writer
A pair of Lancaster city men were convicted of a violent series of robberies and kidnappings against a local business owner in 2011.
About 5:30 p.m. Friday, a local jury returned guilty verdicts to all counts against Aaron Walter Robinson, 36, and Chapel Thompson, 28.
The pair, after a three-day joint trial, were convicted of felony counts of robbery, kidnapping, theft by extortion and related charges.
They kidnapped and threatened the victim, a 42-year-old barber shop owner, on three separate days between Dec. 11 and 18, 2011, according to testimony.
The victim testified that the men demanded $5,000 that they claimed he owed them.
Robinson and Thompson plotted to have the victim killed after they realized he contacted police, according to testimony.
"This verdict should send a message to criminals who think they can use fear and intimidation to avoid being held accountable for their activities," First Assistant District Attorney Christopher Larsen said.
The jury deliberated for about an hour after hearing from six witnesses and Robinson, who denied using violence to collect the debt.
The victim testified that guns were used and, in one instance, he was handcuffed. He was beaten, but wasn't seriously hurt.
Police found guns on Robinson and Thompson when they arrested them separately last year, according to testimony.
Lancaster County Judge David Ashworth, who presided over the trial, will sentence the pair in coming months.
Robinson, who was identified at trial as the leader, faces a mandatory 10-year prison term due to a prior conviction of aggravated assault with a weapon.
Thompson has prior drug-dealing convictions, according to court records.
A bail hearing on the eve of trial revealed the pair's violent behavior.
When they realized police were filing charges, Robinson and Thompson plotted to have the victim killed, according to testimony at the hearing.
They tried to track him by finding out where his son went to elementary school, according to testimony.
"There was discussion about killing the victim," Lancaster city police Detective Bill Breault testified at the hearing. "(Or) to get the victim to recant his statement to police."
Larsen adamantly opposed Robinson's request that his bail be lowered from $500,000.
"There is no condition, other than prison, that can insure the safety of the community," Larsen said in court.
Ultimately, Ashworth denied the request.
After the verdict, Ashworth raised bail for Robinson and Thompson to $1 million.
The victim and his family have been relocated for their protection, officials said.