’Praying robber’ suspect seeks mercy from court
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.