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Participant in fatal convenience store robbery sentenced to 31 months in prison

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Thursday, July 18, 2013, at 4:57 p.m.
  • Updated Thursday, Oct. 3, 2013, at 6:43 a.m.

One of three men who took part in a convenience store hold-up that ended when a clerk fatally shot one of the robbers was sentenced Thursday to 31 months in prison. Christopher C. Rollins, 19, pleaded no contest in May to a felony count of robbery.

Sedgwick County prosecutors said Rollins acted as the lookout when two other men went into KC Gas & Groceries store at 1161 N. Broadway with BB guns on Nov. 22, 2012.

One of the men, Giorgio Rock, 16, was shot and killed by the store clerk. The other, Nigel Finlinson, 19, pleaded guilty in March to aggravated robbery and is serving a sentence of five years and 8 months in prison.

District Judge Richard Ballinger sentenced Rollins to prison after watching a tape of the robbery that showed all three men walking outside the store at 7:23 p.m. on that Thanksgiving night.

At 7:25, after all the customers had left the store, the tape shows Rock and Finlinson walking inside and approaching the counter. Rock crawled under the counter and took money from the cash register as Finlinson stood on the other side. The tape then shows Rock scrambling back under the counter before collapsing on the floor. Finlinson and Rollins are seen running south through the parking lot.

The tape, which does not have sound, doesn’t show the actual shooting.

Prosecutor Tyler Roush said the tape supports the theory that Rollins acted as a lookout as the other two men went inside.

“We believe the seriousness of this crime deserves prison time,” he said.

Defense lawyer Mark Rudy said his client was not an active participant in the crime, and he said Rollins even tried to talk Rock out of robbing the store. Rudy said his client took advantage of a plea-bargain to avoid a longer sentence if he had been convicted of the more serious crime of aggravated robbery.

Rudy said his client had no criminal record, and he said there was no evidence to suggest that Rollins had a gun on the night of the hold-up.

“We were in awkward position,” he said. “We’re trying to make the best of a bad situation for good kid.”

Rollins spoke briefly before being sentenced.

“I just want to get my life back together,” he said. “Just a chance is all I need.”

Ballinger told Rudy that he couldn’t address the issue of Rollins’ guilt.

“If he really didn’t do it, that’s not in front of me,” he said. “I have a convicted robber in front of me. I have a young man who pled no contest to robbery, and it’s presumptive prison. I can’t put your client on probation.”

Ballinger said he would like to have considered sending Rollins to the boot camp that the state once operated in Labette County. He said he also would have liked to have had the option of sending Rollins to the Sedgwick County Community Corrections residential program. He was told that said Rollins did not fit the qualifications set out by that program.

Reach Hurst Laviana at 316-268-6499 or hlaviana@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @hlaviana.

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