Three plead guilty in Aug. 8 Chevron robbery with smiley-face threat

Three youths arrested just 30 minutes after using a note with a hand-drawn smiley face to rob a Columbus Chevron station Aug. 8 pleaded to lesser charges today in Muscogee Superior Court.

Traveon Crowell, 21, was the suspect who about 12:30 a.m. that Wednesday walked into the 5731 Veterans Parkway business and gave the cashier the note that read, “Give me all the money OR DIE. I have a gun. Don’t Panic. JUST DO It!!!” followed by a round smiling face.

He got cash, ordered the clerk to lie on the floor, and ran to a 1996 Nissan Altima parked outside.A witness at the gas pumps got the vehicle’s description, which police broadcast to patrol officers.

Detective Mike Dahnke, who was working security at the Jay Auto Mall off Bradley Park Drive, started checking that area and saw a car matching the description at a Shell station at Whitesville Road and Double Churches Road. When police stopped the Nissan at Bradley Park Drive and Whittlesey Boulevard, they saw Crowell stuffing something under the back seat.

When no one in the car had any identification to show, investigators searched it and found cash from the store crammed under the back seat, along with a key to the Chevron’s cash register and the note used in the robbery. They arrested Crowell along with the driver, Michael Cobb, now 23, and front-seat passenger Kyron Lenard, 20. Each initially was charged with armed robbery.

Crowell and Lenard pleaded guilty today to a lesser charge of robbery. Each was sentenced to 10 years in prison with five to serve. Defense attorneys noted no gun was used in the crime, and the suspects had no prior criminal records.

Crowell told Allen he was trying to get money for his mother, who was about to be evicted from her home. “I never meant for anyone to be hurt. It’s just desperate times,” he said.

Regardless of their intentions, they could have gotten someone killed, Allen noted in his sentencing.

Cobb later pleaded guilty to theft by receiving stolen property. Allen sentenced him to 10 years with one to serve in the county jail. Cobb was a reluctant participant whom the other two persuaded to give them a ride, promising they would give him money for gas, said Assistant District Attorney William Hocutt.