Jury finds man guilty of robbery
A Marion County man accused of robbing a local gas station at knifepoint in May 2009 was found guilty of first-degree robbery by a Franklin County jury on Tuesday.
James Wesley Ennis, 1635 Marion 40, Hamilton, was found guilty of the Class A felony after a three-day trial and five hours of deliberation by the jury, Franklin County District Attorney Joey Rushing said.
According to testimony, the charge stems from the May 10, 2009 robbery of what is now Legacy Chevron on U.S. 43 in Russellville.
Authorities said a man captured on video surveillance can be seen walking into the gas station shortly after 5 a.m. with his hands covering both sides of his face. The man walked straight into the bathroom and emerged a few minutes later with a pink T-shirt covering his face.
The man walked behind the counter and held a knife to the throat of cashier Paula Cook and demanded money from the cash register. The man ended up taking $250.
Testimony showed that customer Josh Curtis, who was getting change from buying gas, punched the knife-wielding man in the face and the man ran out the door on foot.
Rushing said clothes found outside the gas station were traced back to a man named Cliff Frederick, who was in the gas station at the time of the robbery.
Frederick was indicted due to the connections he had to the crime, Rushing said, but a statement Frederick gave to authorities listed Ennis as the person who actually robbed the store.
Defense attorney Jeff Barksdale contended the video evidence does not reveal the actual identity of the robber so there’s no way to know for sure that Ennis was the one who committed the crime.
Barksdale told jurors Frederick and Ennis had been friends but their friendship had started to deteriorate and Frederick was framing Ennis for the crime because he didn’t want to turn in the real robber.
However, Rushing said Frederick had no reason to lie and that even Ennis admitted he was with Frederick and his wife the night of the crime.
“Mr. Barksdale did a great job representing his client, but after 11 witnesses, we felt confident the truth would come out,” Rushing said. “The witnesses, including Mr. Frederick and his wife, put the pieces of that night together and we’re pleased with the jury’s decision.
“We appreciate the jury taking this case so seriously because with a weapon involved, this could have been a deadly situation.”
Ennis faces a sentence of 20 years up to life in prison. He will be sentenced by Circuit Judge Terry Dempsey in October.