Conroe, February 20 – Last Thursday, February 15, 2018, jurors in the 435th District Court of Montgomery County, Texas, Judge Patty Maginnis presiding, sentenced Santo LaCharles Stephens, 21, of Harris County, Texas, to 40 years in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for the October 3rd, 2016, aggravated robbery of Jeff’s Jewelry on Highway 105 West in Conroe. On that date, Stephens and two other individuals rushed the jewelry store with handguns and a hammer. Stephens attempted to smash a glass case containing jewelry and, when he was unsuccessful, ran to the cashier’s counter to assist armed robber Javian Jackson in getting cash from the cash register. In doing so, Stephens threatened store owner Jeff Turner with the hammer. Stephens and another armed robber, Kadarius Royston, both fled when shots were fired by store employees, in response to a shot fired by Jackson. Jackson attempted to flee after grabbing the cash, but was shot and killed. His gun and a bag with the cash were recovered next to his body.
Stephens and Royston fled in a white Dodge Charger driven by another co-defendant, which met up with a second getaway vehicle driven by co-defendant Sedrick Townsend. Royston, Townsend and the initial getaway driver have all pled guilty and are awaiting sentencing hearings in the next 3 weeks. Stephens’ DNA was found on a black sweatshirt and hat Stephens was seen wearing in the store surveillance video. The DNA evidence corroborated testimony by witnesses who identified Stephens as the hammer-wielding and glass-smashing defendant on the video.
Punishment evidence from several HPD officers and a victim of one of Stephens’s previous crimes showed that Stephens served 3 separated Harris County juvenile probations before an adult Robbery arrest that resulted in an Assault conviction, also in Harris County. Stephens had other arrests for Attempted Burglary of a Habitation, Theft of a Firearm, and Assault Family Violence. Despite these Harris County arrests, Stephens had never served time in TDCJ prior to the 40 year TDCJ sentence handed down last Thursday by the 435th jury, following the guilty verdict earlier in the day.
Stephens had posted bond and was out of jail during his trial last week, but upon the jury’s guilty finding, the 435th District Court immediately placed him in custody. Last week’s 40 year TDCJ sentence for Aggravated Robbery means Stephens will not become eligible for parole until he has served at least ½ of the sentence, or 20 years. Stephens, 21, will not be eligible for parole until he is 41 years of age. Eligibility for parole does not guarantee parole.
Prosecutor Jim Prewire said, “These violent individuals were able to flee the scene, but the quick and thorough investigation by officers, investigators and detectives with the Conroe Police Department led to their arrest and convictions. Thanks to CPD and the jury, justice was obtained for Mr. Turner, his family, employees, customers, and the community. The jury’s verdict sends a message, especially to those who come into Montgomery County to do harm to our citizens and businesses, that violent criminal activity will not be tolerated.”