Registered nurse Leslie Bottoms got mixed up with an ex-soldier whose service injuries led to an oxycodone addiction, her defense attorney said.
Joshua Hanks’ addiction drove him to rob the same Columbus Kmart pharmacy three times in 2015 before a witness followed him to a motel, where Hanks tried to escape police by crawling through a hole in the wall.
Officers caught him in the parking lot. The room was in his name, and Bottoms, his girlfriend at the time, had shared it with him.
Like Hanks, she was charged with armed robbery, as a party to the crime.
She pleaded guilty Tuesday to a reduced charge of theft by receiving stolen property, and Judge Bobby Peters sentenced her to a year in prison followed by nine on probation, during which she is to handle no medications.
Bottoms, 42, had been free on bond. Deputies took her into custody in the courtroom after she was sentenced.
Defense attorney Jennifer Curry said Bottoms let Hanks, then 26, use her car while she was at work, and he used it to get more opioids. Hanks had been in and out of rehab, and Bottoms felt that as a nurse she could help him, Curry said.
They had been together four years, she said.
Bottoms, of Cataula, had no prior convictions, so Peters sentenced her as a first offender, which means her record may be cleared if she successfully completes probation.
She denied having had an addiction, but admitted receiving some of Hanks’ loot, Curry said.
Hanks’ loot was vast: Police counted 1,340 oxycodone pills worth $36,465.
1 store, 3 robberies
He robbed a Kmart at 2500 Airport Thruway on March 8 and March 17, 2015, pointing a replica handgun at workers and demanding pills. When he did it again on April 6, a witness saw him leaving the parking lot and followed.
Hanks dumped the car and ran to his room at the Extended Stay motel on Armour Avenue, but by then police were tracking him.
He tried to throw them off, calling 911 to report an accident on the I-185 entrance ramp to Macon Road, and an armed robbery at Uncle Bob’s Self Storage.
When that didn’t work, he had one last resort: Because of some plumbing repair, the wall under his bathroom sink was patched, and he had tunneled through to an adjacent room. So he crawled into that room and slipped out, before officers caught him outside.
Because Bottoms, then 38, had shared the room, police arrested her for the April 6 robbery, too.
A grand jury indicted Hanks on four counts of armed robbery, possessing a controlled substance with the intent to distribute it, criminal trespass, making a false report of a crime and obstructing police.
Last year he pleaded guilty to the robbery, drug and trespass charges. Peters sentenced him to 20 years in prison with 12 to serve and the rest on probation.