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Robber gets 25 years in prison

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A Charleston man linked to the muggings of several pizza delivery drivers was sentenced Monday to up to 25 years in prison for robbing employees at gunpoint inside a Nitro gambling parlor last year.

DeSean Markeys Saunders, 31, pleaded guilty earlier this year to two counts of first-degree robbery for reportedly walking into Joli's gaming parlor and demanding that the employees hand over their cellphones and any cash inside the building.

Saunders left the business with more than $6,000 dollars.

Saunders also admitted to charges that he lured two pizza delivery drivers to apartments on the West Side. Once there, Saunders assaulted the drivers, and stole their money and their pizzas, according to previous media reports.

Kanawha County assistant prosecutor Maryclaire Akers said that Saunders originally faced at least 75 years in prison on the three robbery charges. In exchange for the plea, prosecutors recommended a 25-year sentence.

"If the state had not submitted their recommendation, I'd be more inclined to give him 40 years," Kanawha County judge Charles E. King said Monday, shortly after handing down Saunders' sentence.

Charges are pending against Saunders in a third pizza delivery robbery in Putnam County.

On June 20, Morgan Vandergriff delivered pizza to Sable Point Apartments in Hurricane. When he knocked on the door, the woman inside told him she didn't order a pizza, according to a criminal complaint filed in Putnam County Magistrate Court.

As Vandergriff was walking back to his car, Saunders approached and told him that the pizza was for him and his mother.

Vandergriff followed Saunders to a stairwell, where Saunders turned around, put his hand in his pocket and told the deliveryman to put the pizza on the ground and empty his wallet.

Vandergriff, while emptying his pockets, pulled out a .38 caliber Derringer pistol and shot Saunders, who fled to an apartment in the complex.

Later, police found Saunders hiding in a closet. Vandergriff identified him as the man who tried to rob him, the complaint states.

Akers said Saunders would be eligible for parole after serving about eight years of his 25-year sentence.

Reach Zac Taylor at Zachary.Taylor@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5189.


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