|Polk County Enterprise - Local News
Stories Added - Sunday, March 2, 2008
Copyright 2008 - Polk County Publishing Company
Judge hands down 20-year sentence for aggravated robbery
Polk County Enterprise - March 2008
BY Valerie Redell,
LIVINGSTON — District Judge Robert Hill Trapp sentenced Christopher Michael Penny, 29, to 20 years in prison for the aggravated robbery of a convenience store in the 600 block of Pan American Drive on March 4, 2006. Penny pleaded guilty to charges that he pulled a pocket knife on the female clerk at the store and demanded money, court records show. The clerk said she initially thought it was a joke until Penny stuck both hands into the cash drawer. “This brave woman then slams the drawer on his fi nger,” Assistant District Attorney Joe Martin said. Penny then grabbed the whole cash register and ran to a car with it Martin said. Martin said the aggravated nature of the offense means that he will have to serve at least 10 years before becoming eligible for parole.
Given his extensive criminal history, there’s a good chance he’ll have to serve the whole 20 years, Martin said. “If we did not lock him up, I believe we’d be reading about the murder case he’d be involved in due to his violent nature when he’s on drugs —and he’s on drugs all the time. Several events in Penny’s criminal history involved a knife, Martin said. In 1996 Penny pulled a knife on another boy during a fi ght. He has another charge for shoplifting in Garland. He struggled with store personnel and they were able to prevent him from retrieving the knife from his pocket, according to Martin.
Penny was sentenced to probation in 1997 and between February 1997 and September 2006 offi cials fi led fi ve motions to revoke his probation. He failed drug screening tests eight times and spent two years in the Substance Abuse Felony Punishment program, a residential drug treatment program supervised by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. “There’s not a fi ve-month period in his life when he was not in jail, drug rehab or committing a new offense,” Martin said. After he was released on bond for the April 2006 robbery in Livingston, he was arrested in Mobile, Ala. for stealing copper wire. In June 2007 he was arrested in Garland with cocaine in the car.
Prosecutors explained that Penny lives part of the time with his wife and children in Garland, and part of the time in Polk County with his girlfriend and the two children he has with her. In August 2007, he was charged with assault on his somewhat estranged wife, Martin said, but she was among several family members who testifi ed on his behalf during the punishment hearing. “She said when he assaulted her there was a cold look in his eyes that told her it was not her husband,” Martin said.
When Penny took the stand on his own behalf Martin asked whether one of his many tattoos indicated an association with the Aryan Brotherhood. Penny said no, he was part of the ‘woods’ who are also known as Peckerwoods, another white supremacist group with members in and out of prison.