21-year-old man sentenced to prison for Clayton greenway attack

Clayton Police Department

A 21-year-old man pleaded guilty last week to attacking and robbing a high school teacher on a greenway in Clayton last year.

Satchel Tobias Needham was sentenced to 15 months to 27 months in prison after he was convicted of assault inflicting serious injury and common law robbery, Clayton police said in a news release Monday.

Wil Smith, a Cleveland High School English teacher, said he was walking on the greenway near Amelia Church Road on the afternoon of Oct. 24 when two men ran up to him and struck him on the head. He told police the men took his cellphone, credit card and driver’s license before running into the woods.

Smith suffered a deep laceration near his mouth that required medical treatment, according to police.

Officials in Clayton, about 17 miles southeast of Raleigh, say the town’s trails are popular destinations for residents.

Clayton Police Chief Blair Myhand said in a statement that the assault and robbery “set off fears about the safety of our greenways,” and investigators hoped that Needham’s arrest and conviction would ease public concerns.

Needham was taken into custody about two weeks after the incident.

Myhand said Needham was “well known” in the police department following his arrest in 2017 during a large drug operation.

The second suspect in the assault and robbery remains at large.

“Officers were not able to positively identify other suspects in this case,” Myhand said in the statement.