’Pray­ing rob­ber’ sus­pect seeks mercy from court

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - Religion -

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — He may have hugged the clerk. He may have prayed with her, too. But pros­e­cu­tors say Gre­gory Smith’s con­tri­tion dur­ing a crime in progress doesn’t change the fact he still robbed a cheque-cash­ing store.

“One of the com­mand­ments is ’ Thou shalt not steal,”’ said David E. Wyser, Mar­ion County’s chief deputy pros­e­cu­tor.

A judge en­tered a not guilty plea Tues­day for Smith, who ap­peared on “ The Oprah Win­frey Show” last week af­ter a se­cu­rity video show­ing a gun­man pray­ing with clerk An­gela Mon­tez dur­ing an Oct. 19 rob­bery of an Indianapolis cheque-cash­ing busi­ness was widely shown on tele­vi­sion and the In­ter­net.

The 23-year-old apol­o­gized and said he was driven to the rob­bery af­ter he lost his job and his fam­ily was threat­ened with evic­tion.

“I didn’t want to see my fam­ily out on the street,” he told Win­frey. “I’m not con­don­ing it, but that’s why I got to that point.”

Pros­e­cu­tors have ac­cused Smith of hold­ing up two cheque-cash­ing busi­nesses this month, and he ap­peared in court Tues­day to face charges of rob­bery, crim­i­nal con­fine­ment, point­ing a firearm and car­ry­ing a hand­gun without a li­cence.

He faces six to 76 years in prison if con­victed on all charges.

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