The 45-year sentence imposed on an accomplice in a jewelry store robbery was affirmed by the Indiana Court of Appeals Tuesday, even though the crime to which he pleaded guilty is now punishable by a maximum sentence of 20 years.
Justin Clark met Keith Miller in prison, and when Clark was released, he agreed with Miller to participate in a jewelry store robbery in North Vernon in 2011, in which the owner was brutalized by Miller. The owner also was run over by the car Clark and Miller used to flee police.
Clark was charged with seven felonies but pleaded guilty to Class A felony robbery resulting in serious bodily injury, and the state dropped the remaining charges and a habitual offender enhancement. The plea allowed Jennings Circuit Judge Jon W. Webster discretion in sentencing, and he imposed a 45-year executed sentence, listing numerous aggravators.
“This is not Clark’s first major offense, and he has a significant criminal history. At only twenty-five years old, he has had four prior felony convictions, two misdemeanor convictions, and still has an outstanding criminal warrant for an offense in Tennessee,” Judge Rudy R. Pyle III wrote for the court. “While incarcerated in Jennings and Floyd Counties, Clark continued to have behavioral issues and had nineteen major write-ups in Jennings County alone.
“These facts demonstrate that Clark has a substantial and continuing disregard for the law and authority,” Pyle wrote in Justin J. Clark v. State of Indiana, 40A05-1402-CR-71.
A footnote in the opinion observes that robbery resulting in serious bodily injury has been reclassified to a Level 3 felony, punishable by a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. The court noted it applied the statute in effect at the time of Clark’s crime.