Man pleads guilty to robbing parishioner at church on Sunday, tying him with robes, taking truck

Defendant has asthma attack in courtroom

tchitwood@ledger-enqurier.comSeptember 30, 2013 

A suspect accused of robbing an 82-year-old man who was opening Columbus’ Liberty Baptist Church on a Sunday morning last year pleaded guilty today.

Immediately after his sentencing, 25-year-old Randy Harmon had an asthma attack in court, gasping for breath as court workers called for an ambulance. He left the Government Center on a gurney as medics treated him.

He pleaded guilty to robbery and motor vehicle theft. Superior Court Judge John Allen sentenced him to 20 years in prison with 10 to serve, and the remainder on probation.

Police said Harmon was sitting on the steps of the 934 Valley Forge Road church about 8 a.m. Sept. 2, 2012, when the man came to unlock the doors in preparation for Sunday services. Harmon followed the parishioner inside and asked what time church started. Then he pulled a pistol on the man.

In court today, prosecutor William Hocutt said Harmon used church robes to tie the victim up, then took the man’s cell phone and 2007 GMC Canyon pickup truck.

Tracking the use of the victim’s cell phone led police to women who had been communicating with Harmon, and they were able to identify him. That led authorities to the revelation that Harmon was on parole for a 2009 aggravated assault conviction in Clayton County, Ga., so investigators had his Columbus parole officer call him in for drug test.

When Harmon showed up at his parole officer’s Enterprise Court office around noon on Sept. 14, 2012, he still was driving the stolen truck. In the truck the officers arresting him found a pistol matching the one the victim had described.

It was a BB pistol, Hocutt said today. Harmon’s initial charge of armed robbery subsequently was reduced to robbery.

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