A Franklin County man is scheduled to be sentenced next month on multiple felony charges in separate robbery and burglary cases.
The defendant, John E. Huggins Jr., 24, St. Clair, pleaded guilty this week to two felony charges in the Sept. 13 armed robbery of the Washington Fas-Trip convenience store at Fifth Street and Highway 47.
He also entered guilty pleas in a July 2012 burglary and stealing case.
Circuit Judge Gael Wood accepted the guilty pleas Monday, Oct. 22, and scheduled a sentencing hearing for 1:30 p.m. Nov. 19.
The judge also granted the defendant a furlough from the county jail Friday, Oct. 26, from 1 to 5 p.m. with conditions that he not consume alcohol or any controlled substance and that he not drive a vehicle unless properly licensed.
Under an agreement, Huggins entered guilty pleas to second-degree robbery and theft of a firearm, both felonies, in the Fas-Trip holdup. Charges of armed criminal action and resisting arrest were dismissed as part of the agreement.
In the July 6, 2012, case, Huggins pleaded guilty to felony charges of stealing, second-degree burglary and first-degree tampering with a vehicle. He was charged in a warrant with breaking into the St. Clair Methodist Church, and with stealing tools from a St. Clair man.
Under the agreement with the prosecutor’s office, Huggins will serve seven years in prison on each felony count. Prosecutor Bob Parks said the sentences will be served concurrently, under the plea deal.
Washington police said Huggins entered the Fas-Trip convenience store at the corner of Highway 47 and East Fifth Street shortly after 12:30 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 13, struck up a conversation with the clerk and remained in the store about 20 minutes. At one point he told the clerk he was an undercover cop and asked what he (the clerk) would do if this was a robbery, according to a probable cause statement filed in court.
The man then lifted his shirt and displayed a chrome-plated revolver in his waistband, police said, and demanded a pack of cigarettes and some liquor. The clerk gave the man the pack of cigarettes then the suspect picked up a half-gallon bottle of whiskey and ran out of the store.
Police officers were in the area and converged on the store when they were alerted to the holdup
A witness saw the man, later identified as Huggins, running toward the Mercy Hospital parking lot, then Patrolman Greg Walters saw the fleeing suspect and ran after him.
The man sustained some scrapes and bruises when he fell over a concrete retaining wall on the Third Street side of the hospital, police said, then he continued running but soon tired and was taken into custody.
A small revolver was found a few feet from the suspect and police recovered the cigarettes and liquor taken from the store.
Huggins initially told police that another man forced him at gunpoint to rob the convenience store, but during questioning he later admitted that was not true, police said.
Police learned that Huggins had been visiting a man who lives near the convenience store prior to the robbery and he allegedly took the revolver from that home to use in the holdup.
Huggins pleaded guilty earlier this year to a second-degree domestic assault charge and is on five years’ probation in that felony case which stemmed from a September 2011 incident, according to online court records.