Thursday, March 9th, 2017
Man gets prison for Rockford robbery
By Ed Gebert
CELINA - An Indiana man has been sentenced to eight years in prison for his involvement in the April 18 armed robbery of the Dollar General store on West Bridge Street in Rockford.
John C. Smead, 50, of New Haven pleaded guilty to aggravated robbery in a plea deal on Feb. 15 in Mercer County Common Pleas Court. He was sentenced on Wednesday by Judge Jeffrey Ingraham. His original charges also included theft and two counts of aggravated menacing, all first-degree misdemeanors. Those charges were dismissed as part of the deal.
Smead reportedly was the driver for Edward Smith, 44, Fort Wayne, Indiana, during the robbery. Smead's attorney William J. Mooney said Smith woke up "dope sick," and he called Smead for a ride to get some drugs. Smead reportedly was an old friend of Smith's after they had met in prison.
Smead drove Smith to Rockford, where the pair stopped at the Dollar General, Mooney said. Smead reportedly waited in the truck while Smith robbed nearly $600 from the store.
During his sentencing Smead read a letter of apology to the Dollar General employees, saying, "I'll never forgive myself for what happened to you. I'm sorry for the trial you were put through."
Smead put the blame on Smith, whom he called his "ex-friend," and insisted that the trip to Ohio was all Smith's idea.
Mooney asked for a lighter sentence for Smead, claiming his client has a degenerative spinal disease. His condition meant Smead could only drive Smith that day, and the truck was parked too far from the store for Smead to act as a lookout, according to his attorney.
Smith on June 28 was also sentenced to eight years in prison for his involvement in the crime. Smead was arrested in New Haven on April 20. He reportedly was responsible for leading authorities to Smith, who was arrested six days later. Both men were then extradited to Ohio to face charges.
Smead's trial had been delayed while Mercer County Prosecutor Matt Fox tried to find a time when Smith could testify against Smead.