Sandra K Reabuck
A Johnstown man pleaded guilty Monday to attempting to rob a city motel and to criminal trespass in an unrelated case and was sentenced immediately to five to 10 years in state prison.
Laron Likey Joyner, 32, was one of three men who attempted to rob the Towne Manor Motel on Sept. 1, 2011.
When the clerk refused to turn over money to the robbers, a co-defendant identified as Joyner’s brother, Quaaim, who was armed with a handgun, allegedly leaped over the counter, pistol-whipped her and shot once into the wall.
The brothers, along with the other co-defendant, Tyrell McCord, fled the scene.
In the other case, Joyner allegedly entered the Cypress Avenue residence of Edward Blanka and Nicole Mitchell on March 27, 2011, to rob them.
Prosecutors dropped the robbery charge in that case.
Laron Joyner, who has a prior criminal record, told Judge Linda Fleming that his spree again into criminal activity stemmed from his use of illegal drugs.
His last prior conviction dates back to 2008, his court-appointed attorney, Gary Vitko, said.
“I’ve been using drugs since I was a teenager. I started using marijuana and then shifted to snorting cocaine. After I got shot, I was on Percocets (painkillers) and (then) got so depressed trying to take care of my children I went back on drugs – cocaine, anything to get me high because I was so depressed.”
Joyner was shot by a Johnstown teen in March 2011 on Ridge Avenue in Johnstown’s Old Conemaugh Borough section.
Although Joyner talked about wanting to turn his life around and becoming a productive citizen, the judge told him that he will have hurdles to overcome in trying to find a job when he gets out of prison with his criminal record and with his history of drug abuse.
“No one is going to be able to eliminate temptations for you. Will you have the tools to deal with adversity? You have to learn in jail or somewhere those tools,” Fleming said.
Joyner indicated that he was interested in possibly entering the drug-rehabilitation program at Peniel in West Taylor Township, but the judge said that under terms of the plea bargain, he will not be eligible for early release from prison for such a program.
Assistant District Attorney Jessica Aurandt said that prosecutors recommended the 5- to 10-year prison term because others were involved in the crimes.
The defendant, who was arrested in New York City in October 2011 and returned to Cambria County, was credited for the time he’s spent in prison awaiting disposition of the cases.
Quaaim Joyner’s case in the motel robbery has been continued until February.
McCord, who was 16 when the motel robbery took place, was sentenced to four to eight years for the motel robbery and a concurrent 23 months probation for his plea to reckless endangerment in the Moxham incident.