CINCINNATI - A judge who said a 21-year-old Lima man "terrorized" an elderly couple sentenced him Tuesday to 65 years in prison, after his conviction on crimes stemming from a home invasion in which a second suspect's Bible verse bracelet left an important clue.
Raj Houston, of Lima, was sentenced by Hamilton County Common Pleas Judge Charles Kubicki Jr. for convictions on armed robbery, kidnapping and related charges stemming from July 11, 2012, when authorities say Houston and another man knocked on the couple's door then came in with guns.
Authorities say the two men robbed Joan Brown and Robert Brown and Houston held a gun on the 78-year-old woman while Darian Lawrence took her 80-year-old husband from the couple's Amberley Village home to a bank to withdraw cash from an automatic teller.
Lawrence was wearing a bracelet with a Bible verse reference that left an imprint in the door molding of the couple's SUV that authorities say the suspects stole. The Ephesians 6:10 reference is to a Bible passage urging the faithful to "be strong in the Lord" and to use "the whole armor of God" to stand against Satan. Investigators say they noticed the reference on a bracelet Lawrence was wearing when questioned later about robberies.
"You've committed horrible and despicable crimes," Kubicki told Houston in court Tuesday. "You terrorized an elderly couple in the sanctity of their home. You held them at gunpoint. You robbed them and left them begging for their lives."
Houston told the judge he was sorry, and said he protected the woman during the robbery.
Both Lawrence, 20, of Cincinnati and Houston pleaded not guilty to the subsequent charges, but Lawrence changed his plea to guilty and received a sentence of 18 years.
Houston had rejected a plea deal. His attorney didn't immediately return a call for comment.