A Franklin County man who pleaded guilty to the Sept. 13 armed robbery of the Washington Fas-Trip convenience store has been ordered to serve seven years in the Missouri Department of Corrections for the crime.

John E. Huggins Jr., 24, St. Clair, was ordered by Circuit Judge Gael Wood to serve the sentence under the long-term drug/alcohol treatment program, Prosecuting Bob Parks said.

Judge Wood accepted the guilty pleas Monday, Oct. 22. Under an agreement with the prosecutor’s office, Huggins pleaded guilty 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.

Huggins also entered guilty pleas at that time in a July 2012 burglary and stealing case.

He was sentenced on each felony charge to seven years which will be served concurrently.

Armed Robbery

Washington police said Huggins entered the Fas-Trip store 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.

Earlier Charges

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.

Huggins pleaded guilty earlier this year to second-degree domestic assault and is on five years’ probation in that case which stemmed from a September 2011 incident.