CROWN POINT | A 19-year-old man was sentenced to four years in prison after admitting to taking part in a carjacking and theft.
Jahmal D. Sanders, of Hammond, pleaded guilty to two counts of robbery, Class C felonies in two separate cases, according to court records. He was sentenced to four years in prison.
In one case, Sanders and Bryon L. Hill were accused of pointing guns at two women and demanded all of their belongings. The incident happened Aug. 20, 2013 in the 4900 block of Chestnut Avenue in Hammond.
According to the agreement, Sanders and Hill drove off with a 2000 Ford Explorer one of the women was borrowing from a friend. Items left in the car were later pawned.
Charges against Hill are still pending in Lake County Criminal Court.
Four days later, Sanders took a bicycle from a home in the 1100 block of Summer Street in Hammond, according to the affidavit.
Lake County Criminal Judge Salvador Vasquez said in court he originally rejected the lenient plea agreement, which called for a four-year maximum concurrent sentence.
Vasquez said he changed his mind after presiding over the murder trial of Sanders' brother and seeing the day-to-day support from the Sanders family. Many of the family members were in the courtroom gallery for Thursday's sentencing hearing.
Sanders' brother, Cameron Sanders, 18, of Hammond, was shot to death July 22, 2013 in Hammond. During a trial in October, a jury convicted Aqueeli Walton of murder in the shooting death.
Vasquez sentenced Walton last month to 58 years in prison.
Jahmal Sanders testified during the trial and recalled finding his wounded brother on the kitchen floor of a home in the 1400 block of Sherman Street in Hammond.
"(I) stepped out," Jahmal Sanders told the jury. "I didn't like to see my brother like that."
Defense attorney Arlington Foley said he has seen a change in his client's attitude, which he attributes to the homicide.
Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Christine Parry asked for Jahmal Sanders to be sentenced to prison, citing his criminal juvenile history. She said the victims in the cases have told her the incidents left them feeling terrified.
"There is nothing stopping this young man from being a productive citizen except for himself," Parry said.
Jahmal Sanders apologized to the court and to the victims. He asked Vasquez to give him a second chance.
Vasquez told Sanders he could petition to be admitted into the court's transitional program.
"You show the initiative, we'll see what happens," Vasquez said.
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