Warner Robins man sentenced to life in prison without parole plus 10 years for home invasion

bpurser@macon.comJuly 17, 2014 

PERRY -- A Warner Robins man was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole plus 10 years Thursday for holding a woman and her teenagers at gunpoint during a home invasion last year.

Houston County Superior Court Judge Edward D. Lukemire said Roderick Lawson, 24, senselessly lost his freedom. He also noted the severity of the offense and Lawson’s prior felonies, including an aggravated battery in which Lawson shot another person in the neck.

A jury found Lawson guilty Wednesday night of two counts of armed robbery, two counts of aggravated assault, one count of burglary and three counts of possession of a firearm during a crime. Jurors deliberated nearly six hours.

Family and friends pleaded through tears for a sentence that would allow Lawson to leave prison one day. Lawson has two daughters, ages 2 and 6, said Vonterance Smith, his girlfriend and mother of their children.

“I just pray that you will have some leniency on him,” Lawson’s aunt, Tina Davis, implored the judge.

Under state statutes, the minimum Lukemire could have sentenced Lawson to was life without the possibility of parole because he had prior felony convictions.

“There is no time left for second or third chances,” Lukemire told Lawson.

Lawson did not make a statement during the hearing. He told his family and his girlfriend that he loved them as he was led away by courthouse security guards.

Co-defendant Benjamin Dontarious Thomas, 23, of Perry, previously pleaded guilty to his role in the home invasion and was sentenced to 30 years in prison plus 15 on probation. But a resentencing hearing is pending. He testified against Lawson at trial.

On Jan. 9, a masked Thomas and Lawson came up behind a woman as she was replacing a screen on a window outside her Perry home at 10:40 p.m. Thomas pointed a shotgun in her face, while Lawson held a brick as she was ordered back inside the home, police said.

Once inside, both men took turns holding the woman, a schoolteacher, and her children, 13 and 18 years old, at gunpoint. The men threatened to kill them while robbing them of a wallet, cellphone and XBox 360, police said.

The men were arrested later at an apartment at Kings Villas Apartments on Kings Chapel Road. The apartment backs up to the Alice Drive home of the victims.

Assistant District Attorney Greg Winters said he was pleased with the jury’s verdict and thinks the sentence protects residents by taking a violent criminal off the streets.

Lawson’s attorney, Jonathan Waters of Macon, said the judge was bound by the statutory requirements.

To contact writer Becky Purser, call 256-9559.

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