Two teenagers plead guilty in armed robbery case

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Local youths will be back in court Jan. 30 for sentencing.

With their mothers beside them Tuesday, the two juveniles facing adult charges for an armed robbery this summer at KFC on William Street pleaded guilty.

After telling about their role in the July 21 robbery, Semaj Lumas, 16, and Isaiah Lane, 15, were ordered to undergo pre-sentencing evaluations by the state Board of Probation and Parole and the Division of Youth Services. They will be back in court Jan. 30 for sentencing before Judge William Syler.

Prosecutors suspect that an adult helped them get away in the robbery, and a cook at the restaurant, Adam C. Norris, was charged with being the inside help. Norris, however, had charges dropped after a key witness could not be located.

Lumas and Lane face possible life sentences for first-degree robbery and armed criminal action. Lane faces another four years in prison after his guilty plea for unlawful use of a weapon by firing a shotgun in the air Aug. 8 during a dispute at Frederick Street and Jefferson Avenue.

Both of the young men spoke quietly, almost in a whisper, as they told Syler what happened during the robbery.

"You held up the KFC?" Syler asked.

"Yes," Lumas replied.

"You displayed a gun and demanded money?" Syler asked.

"Yes," Lumas replied.

The robbery netted the two youths approximately $2,200.

According to a sworn statement filed with the charges against Norris, the cook agreed with his cocaine dealer to leave the restaurant door open so the robbers could enter. During the robbery, the juveniles covered their faces and displayed a revolver.

Lane and Lumas were certified to be charged as adults in September.

The evaluations will determine whether the two can be helped by programs of the Division of Youth Services, the state juvenile justice agency. The division is part of the Department of Social Services.

If sentenced to state prisons, the boys would have to serve 85 percent of their sentence before being eligible for release.

"This was a 16-year-old who was influenced by a grown man," said Catrice Moore, cousin of Semaj Lumas. "They need to get him some help."

The young men don't have many good role models, Moore said. "He needs to go to some kind of boot camp to give him a way to live," she said. "They are so quick to lock them up."

Lumas and Lane have been in the Cape Girardeau County jail since their arrest in August.

Second KFC incident

Syler disposed of another case involving a theft at KFC when he accepted the guilty plea of Jeremie Stanley, 32, of Jackson. Stanley was working as a contract laborer at the restaurant in May when he stole $800 from an open safe.

Stanley pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor. He has paid the money back and moved to Mississippi. Syler placed Stanley on probation.

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