CHALMETTE, LA (WVUE) - A Gretna man faces life in prison after a jury convicted him for aggravated kidnapping and armed robbery following a hold-up at a Chalmette pharmacy last year. It took jurors about two hours to decide the fate of 28 year old Ben Amos. The jury determined that Amos was one of two people who walked into the Walgreens on Judge Perez Drive last August 25th and dragged two store employees and a customer into a back room to rob them. The St. Bernard Sheriff's Department says both men were armed and wearing bandanas. Sheriff Pohlmann says officers also recovered gloves and wraps the pair were using to try to tie up the victims in the store.
A store employee was able to secretly called police to alert them to the crime. Officers quickly arrived and caught Amos and the other suspect, 43 year old Leonard Gibson at the scene.
Amos, who has been jailed in lieu of $500,000 bond since his arrest, was convicted Wednesday on three counts of aggravated kidnapping, one count of armed robbery and two counts of attempted armed robbery. The verdict came after a two-day trial presided over by state District Judge Jeanne Juneau. Amos faces an automatic sentence of life in prison on the aggravated kidnapping convictions and will be sentenced June 17.
District Attorney Perry M. Nicosia, commented after the trial that, "I'm very happy with the guilty verdicts handed down by the St. Bernard jurors. Our office will continue to work closely with the Sheriff's Office to ensure violent criminals are brought to trial and convicted." Sheriff James Pohlmann says, "It sends the message we want out there that if people choose violence there will be a harsh penalty for them to pay when they are caught. Without a phone call during the robbery and quick response by deputies this would have turned into a hostage situation or worse.''
A third person, a woman who worked at the pharmacy and lived in Chalmette with Gibson, was arrested the next day for allegedly helping plan and orchestrate the robbery and a fourth person, the alleged getaway driver, was arrested several days later.
Gibson, getaway driver John Wilson and former employee Quinita "Peaches'' Harris, are all jailed awaiting trial.
No one was injured and the only item stolen was a cell phone from an employee, which was recovered. Investigators say the car used in the getaway vehicle was found at the home of Harris and Gibson in Chalmette.