Two Atlanta-area residents are headed to prison after sentencing Monday in what authorities described as the unnecessarily violent armed robbery of a Columbus Circle K store.
Tommy James Thomas and Courtney Kierra Hughes admitted joining two juvenile boys ages 14 and 16 in robbing the Circle K at 2514 Manchester Expressway on Jan. 10, 2015, when both the store clerk and a customer were assaulted.
According to prosecutor Chris Williams, Thomas and Hughes carjacked a Pontiac Grand Prix in metro Atlanta before heading south with the juveniles, stopping to shop at a Walmart in Newnan before driving on to Columbus.
Hughes acted as the getaway driver as Thomas entered the Circle K, the two juveniles following. He acted like he was headed to the restroom before pulling a handgun, jumping the counter and accosting the clerk, who was serving another customer at the checkout.
Leaving his cell phone on the counter, the customer ran, and the two juveniles attacked him as they tried to keep him from leaving the store. He struggled free and got away, and they took his cell phone.
Thomas hit the clerk with his pistol and slammed her head against the counter as the robbers grabbed $20 cash and $93 worth of Newport cigarettes, stuffing the loot into a Circle K bag and dropping cigarettes outside as they ran for the getaway car, Williams said.
A police officer arriving in the parking lot tried to box the Pontiac in, and Hughes hit the patrol car as she sped away. The officer got a partial tag number, and the car was found abandoned in Atlanta the following Feb. 19, with the Circle K bag and a Newnan Walmart receipt inside.
Investigators checking the Walmart’s security camera video found recordings of Thomas, Hughes and the two boys visiting the store at 7:11 p.m. that day, leading to their identification. Police learned Thomas and Hughes later got arrested in Cobb County for a home invasion.
In court Monday, Thomas pleaded guilty to armed robbery, aggravated assault, theft and being a convicted felon with a firearm. Judge Gil McBride sentenced him to 30 years in prison with 15 to serve and the rest on probation, and banished him from the six-county Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit. Thomas is 26.
His previous felony was an April 19, 2010, conviction for second-degree criminal damage to property, according to court records.
Hughes, 23, pleaded guilty to robbery, theft and two counts of aggravated assault. She was sentenced to 15 years in prison with five to serve.