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Boy, 17, receives sentence

McCray to serve seven years after plea agreement

By Linwood Outlaw III -- loutlaw@nvdaily.com

FRONT ROYAL -- A 17-year-old boy who helped four other juveniles orchestrate an armed robbery of a 7-Eleven in March must serve seven years in prison for his role in the plot, a Warren County Circuit Court judge ruled Tuesday.

Brandon A. McCray, of 2155 W. Strasburg Road, Front Royal, appeared before Judge Dennis L. Hupp for sentencing on Tuesday afternoon. McCray pleaded guilty last month to charges of abduction, robbery and wearing a mask or hood to conceal his identity during the March 12 holdup. Additional charges of grand larceny and conspiracy to commit robbery were dropped as part of a plea agreement reached with the commonwealth.

Front Royal police initially said that two suspects entered the store at 711 S. Royal Ave. at 2:35 a.m. on March 12 and demanded money from a female clerk. After the clerk handed over money from the register, the suspects forced her into a bathroom and fled the store on foot. No shots were fired, and no one was seriously hurt. The suspects got away with at least $700.

McCray and another boy, 15-year old Drago Lee Lockhart, of 737 W. 13th St., Front Royal, went inside the store while three others stood lookout, according to court records. McCray displayed a firearm during the robbery. The weapon turned out to be a BB gun, Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Bryan C. Layton said. McCray was indicted in April on all five charges and prosecuted as an adult.

McCray's attorney, Michael Greenan, told Hupp he thinks the robbery was merely an immature and thoughtless deed by the juveniles. "A little maturity might have done something, here," Greenan said, adding McCray had "no concept of what he really did."

Layton, however, argued that the plot was a more serious, premeditated matter.

"This is not a completely isolated act. This isn't the first time Mr. McCray has been in trouble," Layton said, adding the defendant has a criminal record dating back to 2007. "A lot of thought was put into this as far as executing it."

Although Hupp told McCray that sentencing a 17-year old gave him no pleasure, he said a stern punishment was in order. "This was not a mistake," Hupp said of the robbery. "It was a cold, calculated act. It was planned. Well planned."

Hupp sentenced McCray to 20 years in prison on the robbery charge and suspended 15 years from the sentence. McCray also received a one-year sentence on both the abduction and concealing identity charges. McCray will serve 10 years probation upon his release, half of which will be supervised. McCray declined to make a statement before being sentenced.

Last month, Lockhart pleaded guilty to charges of abduction, robbery and conspiracy to commit robbery. A fourth charge of grand larceny was dropped as part of his plea deal. Lockhart will be sentenced on Sept. 22. McCray, meanwhile, is currently being held in the Warren County Jail.

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