Judge delays sentencing for Circle K robber

LISBON – A Salem man accused of robbing the Circle K on East State Street last year with a knife pleaded guilty to a lesser robbery charge Monday in Columbiana County Common Pleas Court.

Travis Weese, 38, Southeast Boulevard, Salem, who has been in custody nearly a year since the crime was committed, requested immediate sentencing. However, after listening to Weese’s defense attorney, Judge C. Ashley Pike declined to sentence Weese until April 12.

Defense attorney James Hartford noted Weese’s problems all seem to stem around times when he is not taking his medication. Accordingly, when Weese committed the crime of robbing the Circle K on March 25, 2012, he had not picked up his prescriptions since Dec. 11, 2011. Hartford said Weese had believed his prescriptions were too expensive and he was feeling better anyway.

Hartford read a letter from a counselor who reportedly said Weese has issues, but is a productive person when he is on his medications. Hartford added that since his time in the county jail began, Weese has been regularly taking his medications.

“We don’t have the resources at this time to deal with a Travis Weese,” Hartford said. He added instead of spending the money up front to deal with those with mental illnesses, the legal system waits until they break the law and then just lock them up.

Hartford also described the crime Weese committed, noting he walked into the Circle K without covering his face. Weese reportedly knew he would be recognized and told Hartford he came into that Circle K every day to get a Polar Pop.

Assistant County Prosecutor Tammie Riley Jones noted Weese did not conceal his identity walking into the store, but took a shirt he had over his shoulders and put it over his face while inside the store. Weese then took a knife in one hand and placed the other on the back of the neck of one of the store’s clerks.

Hartford pointed out both clerks in the store initially reported they did not think Weese was serious. A customer walking into the store actually asked if the robbery was “for real.” Weese walked away with less than $20 taken from the store.

“Obviously, Travis Weese has demons,” Hartford said.

After listening, Pike said he did not feel comfortable sentencing Weese to prison without having the probation department do an expedited pre-sentencing investigation and check to see if he is eligible for the Eastern Ohio Correctional Center. The EOCC would provide a place where Weese would be away from the public, while continuing with his counseling.