Christopher Vennis will serve a total of 16 years in prison for his involvement in two first degree robbery incidents, one of which involved the theft of a case of beer.
Vennis, 19, pleaded guilty in Marshall County Circuit Court to two counts of first degree robbery for his involvement in the separate incidents, which took place Feb. 23 and 24.
During the hearing, Marshall County Prosecutor Jeff Cramer described the incidents to Circuit Judge Mark A. Karl. During the Feb. 23 incident, police were called to First Street in Moundsville, where a man reported being assaulted by two individuals after he refused to give them cans of beer from the case he was carrying. Vennis told Karl he hit the man in the face, knocked him down and ran off with the case of beer.
Photo by J.W. Johnson Jr.
Christopher Vennis, right, sits with his attorney John Gainer, on Tuesday during a plea hearing in Marshall County Circuit Court.
Vennis was identified as the suspect in that case after the victim saw Vennis's mugshot for the second incident, which took place Feb. 24. During that incident Vennis, along with Edward Lee Nelson and David Scott Dolin, assaulted a man on Ohio Street while attempting to steal percocet pills. The group was later caught on W.Va. 86 in Glen Dale after fleeing the scene. Nelson pleaded guilty to first degree robbery earlier this year for his involvement in the incident. Vennis said Tuesday the robbery did not go as planned, though he admitted to striking the victim in the face.
As part of the plea agreement, Vennis will serve concurrent 10 year and 16 year sentences for the two counts. Additionally, he must testify for the state against Dolin if and when he goes to trial for his alleged involvement in the case.
Had the case gone to trial, Vennis faced a possible sentence of anywhere from 10 years to life. Cramer said while the items stolen in the incidents were not large, it was the viciousness and randomness of the assaults that earned Vennis the lengthy sentence.
"This type of violence will not be tolerated in Marshall County," he said.