LISBON - Lester Russell, 31, Commerce Street, Wellsville, the man accused of robbing two Wellsville businesses with a knife last October, was found guilty by a jury following a two-day trial.
After hearing closing arguments and instructions, which ended at about 3 p.m. Tuesday, the jury deliberated until after the courthouse closed at 4 p.m. According to court officials, the jury issued a guilty verdict on both aggravated robbery charges sometime prior to 5:10 p.m. Sentencing is set for March 26. The charges are first-degree felonies, and he faces up to 22 years on the charges and is being held without bond at the county jail.
Assistant County Prosecutor Ryan Weikart had accused Russell of going into the BP on Lisbon Street with a knife at about 8:50 p.m. on Oct. 18. Court documents stated Russell demanded money from the clerk and even threatened to cut the clerk. He then fled on foot with $460.
Two days later, Russell was accused of trying to repeat the crime. At 9:54 p.m., Oct. 20, he was accused of going into McGraw's Drive Thru on Main Street again carrying a knife. Russell had opened the office door and demanded money from the clerk, who according to testimony during Russell's preliminary hearing had grabbed the arm with the knife and pushed Russell back out of the office. Russell had then fled on foot.
Weikart brought to the witness stand the two clerks, investigating officers and analysts from Ohio Bureau of Criminal Information and Investigation. Russell and his grandmother took the stand in his defense.
After the conviction, Weikart issued a press release commending the victims for "courage in coming forward and seeing the case through."
Additionally, he credited the work of the Wellsville Police Department, stating, "Their prompt action resulted in the collection and preservation of key evidence leading to the identification and successful prosecution of Russell."