20-year sentence

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Wilks pleads guilty in 2012 armed robbery

A teenager, who changed his plea to guilty during his armed robbery trial this week, was sentenced to 20 years in prison. 

Joshua Xazier Wilks, 18, pleaded guilty to the charge on Tuesday, Aug. 13, during the second day of his trial, according to a press release from Sixth Circuit Solicitor Doug Barfield.

Barfield said a jury was selected in Wilks’ case Monday morning and testimony began that afternoon related to a Jan. 16, 2012, armed robbery of a man at a bank ATM.

Testimony continued until Tuesday afternoon when Wilks changed his plea from not guilty to guilty, Barfield said. 

Wilks received the two-decade sentence from Circuit Court Judge Paul M. Burch of Chesterfield County soon after changing his plea, the release said. 

The case involved the late-night robbery of a 67-year-old Lancaster man who had driven to the BB&T ATM, 600 N. Main Street. 

The victim reported pulling up to the ATM at 9:45 p.m. to withdraw cash and check his account balance.

As he removed $20 from the machine, Wilks approached from the back of the victim’s car, tapped the door post behind the victim’s head with a pistol, and took the money from the victim’s hand, Barfield said.  

Wilks told the victim to “get it (money) all out and hurry,” so the victim withdrew an additional $100 and gave it to Wilks, the release said. Wilks then ran from the scene.  

The victim testified that Wilks twice put the pistol to the side of the victim’s head during the robbery, and he was also able to identify Wilks as the robber, the release said. 

Once Wilks ran away, the victim drove to the Lancaster Police Department on Arch Street and reported the robbery.  

According to a police incident report, an officer was flagged down soon afterward by another man and his wife, who said they heard someone yelling, “Give me your money” at BB&T.

While taking the report, another officer saw a man matching the robber’s description loitering near the bank, the report said. When the officer tried to talk to the man, he ran away.

Officers and investigators continued searching the area around the bank, but were unable to find Wilks that night.  

Arrested with weapon 

A few weeks later, on Feb. 7, 2012, Wilks was arrested by Lancaster police officers on an unrelated charge of pointing and presenting a firearm, according to a police department incident report. 

In that case, officers spoke with a 29-year-old woman who was leaving a business in the 100 block of Williams Street when she saw a man in a nearby alley.

After getting into her car, she looked over shoulder and saw that the man was pointing a gun sideways at her head, the report said. 

The woman put her hand over her head and started screaming, before trying to drive away, though she kept hitting a pole.

When the man realized she couldn’t drive away, he returned and pointed the gun again at the woman, the report said.

The woman told officers she screamed and pushed her car horn until the man left. 

She was able to drive away, call 911 and give police a description of the man.

Officers returned to the area and found Wilks nearby, who had a BB gun in his waist band, the report said. He was then arrested after the victim positively identified him. 

Barfield said Wilks was in possession of a pellet pistol which closely resembled a .45 caliber semiautomatic pistol, and also appeared to be the same pistol shown in surveillance photos taken during the BB&T ATM armed robbery.  

Investigators questioned Wilks on Feb. 8, during which he admitted to robbing the victim at BB&T, Barfield said. During his guilty plea hearing, Wilks again admitted to committing the armed robbery, the release said. 

Barfield prosecuted the case, while Assistant Public Defender Mark Grier represented Wilks.  

Contact reporter Chris Sardelli at (803) 416-8416