Two men and a female driver were arrested on armed robbery charges in Clay County last week after two victims were robbed and shot in what police are describing as a drug-related incident. The suspects drove off after the robbery and police eventually spotted the vehicle driven by Kelia Smith at a convenience store, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. Smith was arrested in Clay County. The two passengers, Calvin Bolden and Marquise Roberts, allegedly both ran when police arrived, but were eventually arrested at the apartment complex where the alleged shooting took place, the newspaper reported.
All three are charged with armed robbery with a firearm, a first-degree felony that carries a potential life prison sentence. Bolden and Roberts are also charged with aggravated battery and other drug charges, the newspaper reported. Smith, who had her 2-year-old son in the car at the time, was also charged with child neglect and marijuana possession.
Depending on how it shakes out in terms of which one of the men is accused of firing the weapon, there are minimum mandatory sentences that could be at play here. Under the state's 10-20-Life law, using a firearm in the act of a felony allows the state to file for a 10-year minimum mandatory sentence. Both men are accused of showing guns, but only one is accused of firing his, the newspaper reported. Minimum mandatory sentences do not allow the judge to sentence to anything lower and require the defendant to serve the term in its entirety. In most other cases, defendant serve 85 percent of their sentence - assuming the stay out of trouble in prison. If a gun is fired, the minimum mandatory can be increased to 20 years. If someone is hit, it can then be escalated to life in prison. And because people were shot in this case, it could escalate to a mandatory life sentence, though there are other elements that may be in play. Minimum mandatories are generally not filed immediately by the state, but come into play down the road and are often used as leverage in negotiation.
An interesting piece of this Clay County Armed Robbery case, in terms of leverage, will be what the state chooses to do with Smith. She was the alleged getaway driver, which makes her part of the armed robbery, even though it appears she was in the car and not actively involved in the physical robbery. Prosecutors are likely starting first with her to determine if she will talk and, more importantly for the case, if she is willing to testify against the two men in this Clay County Armed Robbery Case. Prosecutors often go to a person on the periphery of the case, but someone who still has intimate knowledge of the case, and will trade information for a recommendation of a more lenient sentence. It's unclear at this point what Smith's ties are to the two men, so the likelihood of her talking is impossible to predict. However, loyalties can go out the window quickly when someone is facing life in prison and our Clay County Robbery attorney has seen family members flip on each other to save themselves some prison time.
If you or a loved one needs a criminal defense attorney in Orange Park or the surrounding area, call The Mussallem Law Firm at (904) 365-5200 for a FREE CONSULTATION. Our Clay County Robbery Attorney, Victoria "Tori" Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.