A Columbus man faces life in prison over allegations he orchestrated the 2011 armed robbery of a pizza deliveryman who, returning to the crime scene days later, happened to meet one of the robbers when the suspect asked what the deliveryman was doing there.
Lonnie Ladale Ross, 33, was one of three suspects charged in the Dec. 9, 2011, armed robbery of Terrell Floyd, who at the time was working for a Buena Vista Road Pizza Hut. Ross’ codefendants, Cortney Ramone Sayers and Demarkus Bennett, pleaded guilty Monday morning before Ross’ trial started.
Authorities said Sayers was sentenced to 10 years in prison for armed robbery and five years’ probation for using a firearm to commit a crime. They said Bennett, who pleaded guilty to robbery by force, is to be sentenced after Ross’ trial.
Ross is facing life in prison because of previous felony convictions, according to court records.
Prosecutors called him the “mastermind” of the 2011 robbery, ordering the pizza delivered to a neighbor’s residence and enlisting Sayers and Bennett to rob the man delivering it. The neighbor was not home.
Floyd testified Monday that he was trying to deliver the food to a Bamboo Street address around 9 p.m., but couldn’t find it in the dark. He saw two guys standing under a big oak tree, so he stopped to ask them where the house was, and they pointed directly across the street.
Floyd said he was walking up to that house when he heard someone running up behind him. He turned to see the two men who’d given him directions, one pointing a silver-plated pistol at his head as the other took a wallet from his pants.
He said the gunman was pointing the pistol as if picking a spot to shoot him when the other robber said, “Hold on, Cort.” The two fled, and Floyd drove to a convenience store to call police.
A day or two later, he returned to the neighborhood to see if he could find the two, he said. That’s when a man came from the house next door to where the pizza was to have been delivered, walked over to Floyd and asked what he was doing.
When Floyd said he was looking for the men who robbed him, the guy asked what he would do if he found them, Floyd testified. Call the police, Floyd replied.
It was during this exchange that Floyd realized he was talking to the robber who’d held a gun on him. He asked the fellow’s name.
“What do you want to know my name for?” the guy asked, walking off.
Floyd notified police, who identified that suspect as Sayers. Their investigation led to the subsequent arrests of all three suspects. Investigators also recovered the driver’s license, Social Security card and other items that were in Floyd’s wallet.
Asked what the suspects got in this scheme, Floyd tallied the loot: $30 cash he carried to make change for customers, his wallet and cell phone, plus two pizzas, hot wings and bread sticks.
Ross is charged with armed robbery and using a gun to commit a crime. His alleged accomplices are expected to testify against him Tuesday.