A 29-year-old man who pleaded guilty earlier this year to a robbery spree that kept North Raleigh residents on edge in the fall of 2013 was sentenced Wednesday to at least 21 years in prison.
Walter Kevin Johnson faced the possibility of more than 160 years in prison for the more than 20 felony counts of robbery, kidnapping, burglary and other offenses related to a series of ATM robberies and kidnappings he acknowledged committing.
But Judge Elaine Bushfan handed down a sentence of 21 to 30 years.
After Johnson pleaded guilty to the charges earlier this year, his attorney, Matt Faucette, said he hoped Johnson would receive a lesser sentence because of his “almost immediate desire to take full responsibility for the pain and harm he caused for the victims, his family and the community.”
Faucette said a “perfect storm” of events in Johnson’s life – including the birth of his first son – led to a series of bad judgments. He was working three jobs, was in debt, had lost his car to repossession and had no money for rent, Faucette said.
The rash of robberies and kidnappings began Sept. 22, 2013, and ended almost a week later. In four of the cases, the victims were outside their homes when they were approached by an armed man who forced them to drive to a nearby ATM, where he robbed them. In the fifth case, a woman resisted, and the man left empty-handed.
In three of the 2013 robberies, the bandit’s face was obscured by a black motorcycle helmet with a full-face shield or an orange and yellow zip-up jacket.
In the final case, an attempted robbery outside a home, the gunman wore a 3-D mask that he removed as he was leaving, law enforcement officers said. Sheriff’s deputies were able to lift fingerprints from inside the home where the robber had forced a woman to an upstairs bedroom and rifled through a jewelry box.
Johnson was arrested Oct. 11, 2013, during a traffic stop on Glenwood Avenue after investigators received a tip from someone who apparently knew him. The tipster told police about items at Johnson’s home that matched the descriptions of items taken during the robberies.
Johnson pleaded guilty to nine counts of common law robbery; one count of attempted common law robbery; three counts of first-degree burglary; three counts of second-degree burglary; one count of first-degree burglary; one count of extortion; one count of assault by strangulation; three counts of larceny of a motor vehicle; one count of larceny of a firearm and one count of possession of stolen property.
Johnson has been in trouble with the law before. As a teen, he was convicted of armed robbery and spent 10 years in prison.