Belpre Subway robber sentenced to three years

A Belpre man who robbed a Subway restaurant with a broken pellet gun was sentenced Friday to three years in prison.

Jason Stewart, 21, last known address 809 Morgan Ave., was sentenced Friday on a third-degree felony county of robbery. He was also re-sentenced on a third-degree felony count of burglary, which he had served more than a year and a half on before being discharged early on judicial release.

Stewart used the gun to hold up the Belpre Subway Nov. 11. He got away with a couple hundred dollars, but was caught that same day.

He told the court the robbery had been committed for drug money and he had never intended to hurt anyone.

“There was never a chance of anybody getting hurt. (The gun) is unworkable. It was a CO2 pellet gun with no CO2 in it. You couldn’t even cock it. The only way we got it to stay up was by putting a piece of paper in it,” explained Stewart.

Washington County Assistant Prosecutor Kevin Rings suggested that Stewart had not used an inoperable weapon by choice, but because it was all that was available to him.

However, Stewart’s attorney, Rolf Baumgartel, noted that co-defendant Austin Stacy, 29, of 810 Morgan Ave., Belpre, testified otherwise. Stacy, who supplied the gun and a change of clothes for Stewart after the robbery, told Stewart the gun was a broken pellet gun.

“(The) co-defendant advised Mr. Stewart said, ‘That’ll work. That way no one will get hurt,'” Baumgartel read from the case’s discovery.

Stacy, who pleaded guilty to a third-degree felony count of complicity to commit robbery, will be sentenced April 9.

Since being incarcerated on the robbery charge, Stewart has had a chance to get clean, he said.

“I’ve been incarcerated for over 120 days. I’m clear-headed. I feel better now than I have in a year,” he told Washington County Common Pleas Court Judge Ed Lane.

But Lane noted he has given Stewart similar opportunities to kick his drug habit in the past, and Stewart obviously failed.

When Stewart and two friends kicked in the door to a home to take items in 2010, Lane sentenced Stewart to three years in prison on the resulting third-degree felony burglary charge. But after just more than a year and a half, he granted Stewart judicial release and ordered him into treatment.

“I’ve given him a break. There isn’t anything else this community can do for him,” said Lane.

He ordered Stewart to serve the remainder of his three-year sentence on the initial burglary charge, and was about to sentence 30 consecutive months on the new charge. However, he was reminded that a pre-trial agreement stipulated a maximum, but concurrent sentence on the new charge.

Lane sentenced Stewart to 36 months on the robbery charge and ordered the sentence to run concurrently. However, noted Lane, the approximately year and a half credit on the initial case would only count against the first 36-month sentence.

“I’m not giving him double credit,” he said.

Therefore, Stewart’s 36-month sentence on the robbery charge started Friday, he confirmed.