By Patrick Yost
A 22–year–old man charged with robbery by intimidation in the attempted car jacking of a convenience store owner was found guilty of a misdemeanor charge by a Morgan County Jury last Thursday.
Prince William Dennis was sentenced by Ocmulgee Judicial Circuit Superior Court Judge Hugh Wingfield to one year in confinement last Thursday, the maximum punishment allowed for a guilty charge on simple assault. Initially Dennis was charged with armed robbery and felony theft by taking. According to court records, Dennis has remained incarcerated at the Morgan County Detention Center since his January 21 arrest and will be eligible to be released soon.
Dennis was charged with entering the Bulkhead Grocery Store in the early morning hours of January 21 and threatening to kill its owner 71–year–old Janet Willis. According to Morgan County Sheriff’s Office reports, Dennis allegedly told Willis that he had “killed my mother” and that he had stolen a van and would kill Willis if she did not give him her car keys.
Willis had stolen a van, apparently, from a relative in Columbia County. The van had blown a tire on Interstate 20 and Dennis had pulled off on the Bulkhead exit and found Willis’ Bulkhead Grocery.
However, while Dennis was threatening Willis, the store keeper backed away from the counter, found and produced a 9mm pistol she keeps at the store and told Dennis ‘I’ll blow your guts all over this store.”
Dennis retreated, jumped into the damaged van and drove it until the sparking rims caused the van to catch fire. Dennis was later arrested in the parking lot of the Madison Chevron convenience store after he had managed a ride from the Bulkhead Chevron store.
During sentencing Judge Winfield warned Dennis of potential outcomes of his behavior.
“Your very fortunate Ms. Willis didn’t kill you,” Judge Winfield said. “The problem with you and people like you is next time you will be killed.”
The theft by receiving stolen property and criminal damage to property charges were dropped after relatives refused to testify or cooperate regarding the theft of the 2008 Chevrolet Uplander.
Judge Wingfield however had praise for Willis. “She basically backed him down,” he said.