Neighbor pleads guilty in violent robbery
CHARLESTON, W.Va. - A Pinch man pleaded guilty to robbing and beating an elderly neighbor in February.
Aaron E. Chapman, 22, entered into a plea agreement with prosecutors prior to being indicted by a grand jury. Kanawha Circuit Judge Jennifer Bailey accepted that plea Wednesday and ordered Chapman convicted of first-degree robbery and malicious wounding, both felonies.
He was arrested, along with Casey Givens, 21, of Elkview, for robbing and brutally beating Ramona Jones, 74, and attempting to rob Frank Mace, 59. Both are Chapman's neighbors.
In his plea hearing, Chapman told the judge Mace was "a neighbor and family friend my whole life."
But he said he was under the influence of drugs the night of Feb. 27 when he and Givens attempted to rob those two neighbors.
"I was looking for things I could get money for," Chapman said. "I did do that crime. I did strike her with my hands and left the premises and went back to my house."
Assistant Prosecutor Dan Holstein said the injuries suffered by Jones were severe.
"There was a significant amount of violence," Holstein said. "With Casey Givens, in the kitchen, they took her purse and pushed her down on the floor and kicked her.
"She had significant injuries," Holstein said. "Broken ribs, collapsed lungs, a broken clavicle, bruises and lacerations to her whole body. She had hemorrhaging in her head.
"She was threatened by this defendant with a knife, and there was an impression left in her chest -- some object had been pressed against her," he said.
"She was virtually tortured, it looks like," Holstein told the judge.
John Mitchell Jr., Chapman's defense attorney, said he didn't want the court to be "incensed" by the description of those injuries and that there was no way of knowing which injuries were caused by which defendant.
"We do not, in any way, want to water down what happened to this lady," Mitchell said. "But we'll continue to emphasize that while a lot of horrible things happened to her, not all of it was caused by my client."
Holstein replied, "He and Casey Givens did that together. This defendant made an admission that before he left, he turned on the stove and flipped it over. If he is suggesting that he is not culpable for her injuries, we may have to go back to square one."
After conferring with his attorney, Chapman made another statement to the judge.
"I could have prevented the injuries on Ramona Jones and I did not," Chapman said. "I did know what I was doing when I struck her, and what injuries I caused."
In exchange for his guilty plea, prosecutors will dismiss other related charges against Chapman, including the attempted robbery of Mace and a robbery a week earlier at the Knights Inn.
But as part of that plea agreement, Chapman is never to come within 100 yards of either Jones or Mace ever again, or have any contact with them.
He will be sentenced in September and faces a minimum of 12 years in prison.
Contact writer Cheryl Caswell at email@example.com or 304-348-4832.