LIMA — A young Lima man who has taken steps to turn his life around since his arrest late last year on charges of forcibly stealing a cell phone avoided prison time on Monday.
Kevonta Luster, 20, of Lima, who police say set up a transaction via Facebook to purchase a cell phone but instead knocked the seller to the ground and simply took the phone, was indicted by a grand jury in December on charges of aggravated robbery with a specification for the use of a firearm, a felony of the first degree, and robbery with a firearm specification, a second-degree felony.
Luster entered into a plea agreement in June that called for him to plead guilty to the robbery charge in exchange for the state’s dismissal of the aggravated robbery charge and the firearm specifications. Allen County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Randall Basinger said in court Monday the victim in the case recanted his earlier claim that Luster used a firearm during the commission of the crime.
Judge Jeffrey Reed told Luster the second-degree felony carried with it the presumption of a prison term. But the judge was swayed in favor of a sentence of probation by the fact that Luster has enrolled in a G.E.D. class while also working 40 hours a week since his arrest.
Defense attorney Zach Maisch said the state’s recommendation of a prison sentence was “way too harsh” and would “place an unnecessary burden on our resources.”
He said Luster’s actions were rooted mostly in “youth and inexperience.”
“Kevonta is one of the most polite young men I’ve dealt with in quite some time,” Maisch said. “He is finally showing some initiative in life.”
Reed acknowledged that Luster has a “minor” criminal history and exhibits a low likelihood to commit future crimes.
“But you sure picked a big one for your first felony,” the judge told Luster upon sentencing him to three years on probation. Reed also imposed a fine of $2,000 and ordered Luther to pay $250 in restitution to the victim for the stolen cell phone.