Jewett City man sentenced for two armed robberies

A 36-year-old Jewett City man who admitted he was in heroin withdrawal when he held up two local businesses with an Airsoft handgun last year was sentenced Monday in New London Superior Court to two years in prison followed by three years' probation.

It was a first conviction for Michael Warner, who has been incarcerated since state police charged him on Dec. 8, 2017, with robbing the Best Way store on North Main Street on Nov. 29, 2017, and the Smokers Discount World, also on North Main Street, on Dec. 7, 2017.

He entered the stores wearing a bandanna over his face and holding a gun and demanded cash from the clerks, according to an arrest warrant affidavit. Upon his arrest, he admitted he had been using five to 10 bags of heroin a day and could not support his habit with his $400 weekly paycheck from his job at a Dayville food storage warehouse.

"I'm so tired of having to shoot up with heroin," he said in a statement to state police. "I can't stand how I feel. I really need help and don't ever want to feel this way again."

People who knew Warner had helped identify him as the robber after state police distributed surveillance photographs of him to media outlets and on social media. Prior to the robberies, he had been living at a friend's house for several weeks. After the second robbery, state police tracked him to an apartment above Uncle Kranky's Cafe on Main Street, where he was hiding in a bathtub.

Prosecutor Lawrence J. Tytla said the robberies were not the most violent he'd seen, but that didn't diminish their seriousness.

Attorney M. Fred DeCaprio said that despite Warner's serious opiate addiction, he had managed to keep a job for most of his adult life. Warner now has incentive to do well, since the mother of his child recently died and he intends to seek custody of the child.

Judge Hillary B. Strackbein said she wasn't comfortable with the sentence of six years in prison, suspended after two years served, followed by three years' probation but that she was going along with it, in part because of Warner's lack of a criminal record. She reminded him he would be subject to returning to prison should he violate the conditions of his probation, ordered him to have no contact with the victims and told him to be a role model for his child.

k.florin@theday.com

 

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