LIMA — A Lima man who admitted he pistol-whipped a man outside a bar just south of downtown Lima more than two years ago was sentenced Monday in Allen County Common Pleas Court after accepting a deal from prosecutors.
Justin Shears, 34, could spend up to seven years in prison but, with credit for more than two years spent in jail as his case wound slowly through the court system and the looming possibility of early judicial release, the Lima man could be freed in less than two years.
Spears was indicted by a grand jury in June 2018 on charges of aggravated robbery, a first-degree felony with a three-year firearm specification; felonious assault, a second-degree felony with firearm spec; and having a weapon under disability, a third-degree felony.
As part of the plea deal negotiations, Spears pleaded guilty to the felonious assault charge and gun spec in exchange for the state’s dismissal of the two remaining counts. The deal included an agreed-up prison sentence of four years, in addition to the mandatory prison term of three years on the gun specification.
The charges stemmed from allegations by police that Shears struck a man with a handgun during a robbery at Marko’s Sports and Spirits in Lima on Sept. 20, 2017.
Lima police officers were called to the South Main Street sports bar in response to the report of an alleged assault. Police found the victim, Hubert Hankison, had sustained multiple wounds on his head after being pistol-whipped, according to court documents. Witnesses told police Shears approached Hankison and struck him in the back of the head with a revolver. Hankison fell to the pavement and Shears reportedly attempted to remove items from his pockets, witnesses said.
Shears was solemn during Monday’s sentencing and broke down when his attorney mentioned his children. Defense attorney Kenneth Rexford said Shears “is a father who cares deeply about his children. He’s had a troubled past, but he’s a bright guy.”
Judge Jeffrey Reed asked Shears why he was crying as Rexford spoke.
“I am leaving my kids. I didn’t have a father and …,” Shears replied, his voice trailing off.
The judge told Shears he would still have time to “make it up to your kids” and be a good father after his release from prison.