A Macon man found guilty of robbing a bank in 2007 proclaimed his innocence Thursday morning just before he was sentenced to serve 30 years in prison followed by 15 years on probation.
Clifford Robert Smalls, 25, said he couldn’t “help” the jury’s decision to convict him.
“I’m not a bad person,” Smalls said at the sentencing hearing held in Bibb County Superior Court.
Smalls was convicted May 26 of robbery by intimidation, possession of cocaine and two counts of possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony in connection with the Nov. 27, 2007, robbery of BB&T Bank at 1302 Gray Highway.
A separate trial was scheduled to begin Wednesday for Smalls, who also was charged with two counts of conspiracy to commit murder and four counts of criminal solicitation.
He was accused of going to the homes of two witnesses to the bank robbery in December 2008 and making statements to other people that he intended to kill the witnesses to prevent them from testifying in court.
The trial was canceled and the additional charges were dropped Wednesday after Smalls accepted a deal in which his attorney and the prosecutor presented the judge with a joint recommendation about Smalls’ sentence.
Smalls asked whether the witnesses were present at Thursday’s hearing.
Neither was in the courtroom.
Smalls said he wanted to tell the witnesses that he never meant them any harm.
“I wish I could look them in the eyes right now,” he said.
Smalls said he wasn’t able to prove his innocence because the conspiracy and solicitation charges are being dropped.
“The allegations about me wanting to do harm to their families weren’t true,” he said.
To contact writer Amy Leigh Womack, call 744-4398.