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Hawkins County man sentenced for robbing car dealer

Jeff Bobo • Oct 6, 2009 at 12:00 AM

ROGERSVILLE — A Stanley Valley man accused in the beating and robbery of a Hawkins County car dealer was sentenced to three years in prison Friday in exchange for a guilty plea to one count of robbery.

Circuit Judge John Dugger also ordered that Travis Brandon Benton, 26, 215 Stanley Valley Road, Lot 5, Rogersville, pay $200 in restitution for a Wal-Mart gift card he stole from his victim, Carlton Freeman, owner of EZ Way Auto Sales, 4932 Highway 11-W, Rogersville.

Freeman reported to the Hawkins County Sheriff’s Office that on the morning of May 19 he was beaten and robbed as he came out of his home on his way to work.

Freeman said he was about to get into his vehicle when someone grabbed him from behind around the neck and choked him until he blacked out.

Freeman also stated that when he fell he hit his head on the ground or the vehicle and cut his head.

When he regained consciousness, Freemen found that two wallets he’d had in his pants pocket were gone, and he also noticed two people running down the road.

A neighbor told police that a black Chevrolet Blazer, later linked to Benton, had been in the area around the time of the robbery.

Benton was identified on surveillance video after he twice used a Wal-Mart gift card that had been in one of the stolen wallets.

Benton was originally charged with aggravated robbery, theft under $500 and aggravated assault, which were all reduced to the single robbery charge in a plea agreement. He will be eligible for parole after serving 30 percent of his sentence.

Among the other guilty pleas heard Friday before Dugger were:

• Jerry Lynn Gilliam, 42, 175 Flora Ferry Road, Rogersville, who was sentenced to three years in prison and fined $3,500 in exchange for guilty pleas to possession of morphine with intent to sell, two counts of possession of drug paraphernalia, and two counts of maintaining a dwelling for drug use.

• Johnny Kay Seals, 39, 308 Spring St., Rogersville, who was sentenced to one year in prison and fined $1,060 for felony reckless endangerment, theft under $500, evading arrest, DUI second offense, and resisting arrest.

• Jessica Nicole Christian, 19, 209 Ross Circle, Rogersville, who was sentenced to two years in prison and ordered to pay restitution related to 15 counts of forgery and one count of theft under $500.

• James Donald Bell, 22, no address available, who was sentenced to one year in prison and fined $100 for statutory rape.

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