Lowndes man gets three years for West Point robbery

Staff Writer

"I'm an addict" a 25-year-old Lowndes County man tells a judge after pleading guilty and apologizing for his behavior in the Dec. 21, 2015 robbery of the Fast Break convenience store in West Point.
Special Judge Mark Duncan, of Neshoba County, sentenced Charles Younger to eight years in prison with five suspended and three to serve during a hearing Tuesday in Clay County Circuit Court.

He'll be given credit for the time he's served since he's been in jail in December.

With two dozen family and friends listening quietly, Younger, his attorney, Rod Ray of Columbus, and Duncan reviewed a tale of drugs leading to "the worst decision of his life."

"I've watched this young man grow up," Ray told the judge, noting Younger was "Mr. Heritage Academy" as a senior in high school.

At the time of the robbery, he was "in the spiral going downhill doing drugs," Ray said.
"People he owed money to threatened him and his family.

Instead of going to the family who would have done anything in the world for him, he decided to rob the Fast Break," Ray told the judge.

Younger walked into the market at about 11:44 p.m. wearing a ski mask and camouflage clothes with his hand in a sack pointed to look like a gun, demanded money from clerk Crystal Magee, and fled with "a large sum of cash.

When asked if the facts were correct, Younger simply replied, "Yes sir," to the judge.

Two days after the robbery, Younger went to Ray and confessed.

The attorney brought him to West Point police and Younger told "every little detail," Ray continued, noting Younger has since assisted law enforcement in other cases.
Without his confession, police might never have solved the case.

"I want to personally apologize to my family, my friends, the victim...," Younger said in an allocution, his voice ringing through the quiet, wood-paneled courtroom.

"I am guilty. I know what I did was dead wrong. I would like to take the next step and get on with my life."
According to court records and his own testimony, Younger started drinking when he was 16 and doing cocaine and marijuana when he was 20. He drank and did cocaine weekly and smoked marijuana daily, according to his pre-sentence report.

When asked by the judge about his drug use, Younger stressed "two or three years" were the worst.

That abuse led to arrests for DUI and possession of marijuana in Starkville and possession of marijuana in Lowndes County.
He did 90 days of drug rehab at two different centers.

Last December, Younger and his family, still worried about his addiction, decided jail was the answer.

His family made a decision he would wait on his day in court in jail.

He knows he has to be punished and he is accepting that responsibility," Ray told Duncan.
Younger has been on the inmate work program while in jail awaiting his plea hearing.

When asked by the judge if the rehab had worked, Younger replied firmly, "They were both successful, but your honor, I am an addict."

Younger entered an "open plea" without a recommendation from prosecutors, Assistant District Attorney Marc Amos told the judge.

Younger faced up to 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Duncan was appointed to handle the case after the three 16th District Circuit judges recused themselves to avoid any appearance of conflict because Younger's father is state Sen. Chuck Younger.

In closing comments, Duncan noted he could easily take "the situation lightly" because he "probably would never see any of these people again.

Instead, he said, it made it even more important that he find what "I consider to be a fair and just outcome."

"You are quite fortunate to have such a strong support group. I suspect they will be there for you the whole time. Not many people have that," Duncan said, nodding toward the family and friends, just before handing down his sentence.
After Younger completes the remainder of the three-year term, he will spend five years on supervised probation