AUBURN — A local man who admitted to five robberies is expected to spend five years of a 10-year sentence in prison.
Scott Demmons, 33, of 15 Willow St. was sentenced Tuesday in Androscoggin County Superior Court to 10 years at the Department of Corrections with half of that time suspended after pleading earlier this month to five counts of felony robbery.
The case stemmed from a crime spree Demmons and an alleged accomplice undertook last spring in an effort to get cash to buy drugs.
Demmons said he was a drug addict who needed help to overcome his addiction.
Deputy District Attorney Andrew Robinson said Tuesday that Demmons’ actions traumatized several victims caught in the holdups where Demmons made threats to use a firearm. He later claimed he didn’t have a gun in his possession.
Christine Lavers said Tuesday at Demmons’ sentencing hearing that the experience was “just terrifying.”
Demmons had entered Elizabeth Ann’s General Store in Lewiston, intending to commit a robbery, prosecutors said. Wearing a black sweatshirt with the hood up, Demmons told Lavers that he had a bloody nose. She tried to help him, giving him some paper towels and telling him to tip back his head.
That’s when Demmons put his hands in his pockets and said he had a gun. After he announced he was holding up the store, Lavers called for the store’s owner, who chased Demmons out of the store.
“What he did was very scary,” Lavers told the judge.
Since that event, Lavers has had difficulty feeling safe at a job she’s held for 13 years, her boss, store owner Barbara Everett, said.
Lavers relives the experience if someone wearing a hood walks into the store, Everett said. The smallest thing can trigger a memory of the robbery, she said.
Robinson told Justice Carl Bradford that Brittany Dyer, the 14-year-old daughter of Lewiston’s Corner Variety store owner, Larry Dyer, witnessed Demmons yell at her father, “I’ll blow your f****** head off,” when he robbed the store of $567 on April 12.
In all, eight people in the Twin Cities were subjected to Demmons’ actions during the spree, Robinson said.
Demmons has 17 prior convictions of all types, including assault, theft and burglary, Robinson said. Of Demmons, Robinson said, “He’s a one-man crime wave.”
Robinson urged the judge to put Demmons behind bars for the full five years agreed to as a cap.
“Public safety is a huge priority,” Robinson said.
Demmons apologized to the robbery victims and said he hadn’t intended to hurt anyone. His wife, Kimberly, said his family “loves and cares about him,” but agreed he “does have to pay for what he’s done.”
His attorney, Jason Ranger, had argued for three years in prison, instead of five.
But Justice Bradford agreed with prosecutors, focusing on the effect Demmons’ actions had on his many victims.
“In all my life’s experiences, I have never come close to having a gun pointed at me,” he said. “I can only imagine what goes through the mind of a person who has a gun pointed at them or is led to believe that the person who is confronting them has a gun.”
In prison, Demmons will have access to treatment for drug addiction, Bradford said.
“If you’re serious about wanting to kick this 500-pound monkey that’s been on your back for the last several years, you’ll take advantage of these opportunities,” he said.
Although Bradford told Demmons that “probation hasn’t worked for you” the four times he’s been on supervised release, Demmons will be placed on probation for three years once he’s released from prison this time.
During those three years, he’ll be barred from having or using alcohol or illegal drugs and could be searched and tested randomly. He will be prohibited from having any weapon and must not have contact with any of the robbery victims or their businesses, Bradford said. He must also pay restitution to the three businesses that gave him cash, totaling $802.
He told Demmons that plenty of people with family histories similar to Demmons’, with addiction and dysfunctional households and lacking high school educations have gone on to lead “exemplary” lives.
In addition to Elizabeth Ann’s General Store and the Corner Variety in Lewiston, Demmons robbed a Domino’s Pizza of $165 on April 25 and a Sam’s Italian Sandwich shop of $70 a day later.
Also on April 25, Demmons tried to rob Heathco Variety in Auburn. He threatened to shoot a cashier, but fled when a customer walked into the store.
Three witnesses said they saw Demmons and Joseph Morris, 25, of 16 Prescott St., Lewiston, counting money and splitting it in a Pine Street apartment in Lewiston, thinking their actions suspicious. Police had tracked the two men to that location by descriptions of the car in which they fled the robbery scenes.
Demmons had started to plead guilty to the charges in court in January, but called the prosecutor’s account of events “a lie.” Demmons maintained he didn’t have a gun despite at least one witness who described seeing the butt of a gun in Demmons’ pocket.