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Carbondale man gets 24 years in prison for Plaza Liquor and Tobacco armed robbery
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Carbondale man gets 24 years in prison for Plaza Liquor and Tobacco armed robbery

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CARBONDALE — A man who robbed employees at gunpoint at Plaza Liquor and Tobacco three days after Christmas last year was sentenced Thursday to 24 years in prison. 

LaShawn F. Russell, 50, of Carbondale, had previously entered a plea of guilty to a Class X Felony offense of armed robbery.

As part of Thursday's sentencing, Russell must also served three years of mandatory supervised release, according to a news release from Jackson County State’s Attorney Joseph A. Cervantez.  

Judge Peter Cahill read a guilty verdict on all three counts, including third-degree murder, as reached by the jury in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in the kneeling death of George Floyd last year.

On December 28, Russell walked into Plaza Liquor and Tobacco, 715 N. Giant City Road, in Carbondale, pointed a handgun at the employees, and demanded that they open the cash register, the release stated. 

The employees complied and Russell took approximately $960 from the cash register before exiting the store through the back door, according to the release. 

After Carbondale police officers responded to the scene, one officer and his K-9 partner, Deacon, tracked Russell to nearby Quality Inn and arrested him.

There, Russell was found to be in possession of the $960 cash he stole from Plaza Liquor and Tobacco and the .380 caliber handgun he used to commit the offense, the release stated. 

Although Russell denied to officers that he committed an armed robbery, the incident was captured on video surveillance, "confirming Russell’s guilt," according to Cervantez's office.

A federal judge has said that R. Kelly should be moved to a New York jail ahead of his sex trafficking trial this summer. Kelly is currently in jail in Chicago where he is potentially facing a second trial later this year in relation to sex crimes. The trial in New York was put off due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, U.S. District Judge Ann Donnelly said that there are protections in place that will allow the trial to take place. Kelly’s trial is expected to take place on August 9 and he will likely be moved to the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn. The singer allegedly recruited women and girls for sex with the help of his managers, bodyguards and other employees. The jury is expected to hear testimony from alleged victims who will remain anonymous.

Cervantez said he gives great credit to the performance of the officer and his K9 partner, Deacon, for their quick response and pursuit of Russell.

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