Society

Man Found Not Guilty By Jury To Serve 10 Years In Jail

| by Kathryn Schroeder

Although a jury found him not guilty, a man from Rome, Georgia, will spend 10 years in prison.

In 2014, a man held a gun to the head of a Lucky Lotto employee, WXIA reports. The store surveillance camera footage was too grainy to identify the suspect, and the store too dirty to capture fingerprints, according to police.

The four witnesses inside the store at the time said the robber was "a black man in dark clothes" who may live in the area.

Months later, the clerk was scrolling through her Facebook feed when she saw a photo of Ramad Chatman. She told police that he was the man who robbed the Lucky Lotto.

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"It triggered something in me, and it just made me freak out," she testified in court.

Chatman, who in 2012 had been found not guilty of a robbery but took a plea deal on another crime for which he received probation, found out he was wanted for questioning by police and turned himself in.

"Because he did not want the police looking for him," his grandmother Janice Chatman told WXIA when asked why Chatman had turned himself in, adding "because he knew he was not guilty."

Chatman was charged with felony armed robbery, according to the Rome News-Tribune.

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The clerk testified in court that she remembered Chatman's under-eye tattoo, but she could not recall the other tattoos that cover his face, neck, hands and arms, according to WXIA. Each time she testified, her description of the gun and clothing of the robbery suspect changed, and how she said she picked out Chatman from lineup photos shown to her by police was different than what actually happened.

The Floyd County District Attorney's office argued that the discrepancies in her testimonies were subtle and that she was still credible.

Before going to trial, Chatman tried to enter an Alford plea, wherein the defendant pleads guilty for a crime while maintaining their innocence. By doing so, Chatman would have the armed robbery charge dropped and a plea deal on the aggravated assault charge. The judge denied his request and the case went to trial, as was Chatman's choice.

The trial jury found him not guilty of armed robbery and aggravated assault.

The judge did not agree. Since Chatman was on a five-year probation for stealing a $120 television in 2012, the judge could revoke his probation and send him to jail for the original crime -- in this case, 10 years.

"His restitution, he worked hard to make sure that was paid," Janice Chatman said. "Even the fine each month, his community service. He made sure he did right on his probation. He never violated it."

If Chatman had not been arrested for the Lucky Lotto robbery, he would have completed his probation in July. Now, he will serve time in prison and have a felony conviction on his permanent record. The time he has spent in prison for the Lucky Lotto robbery -- for which he was found not guilty of committing -- will count towards his 10-year sentence.

Sources: WXIA, Rome News-Tribune / Photo credit: James Cridland/Flickr

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