Fairbanks teen gets six years for two armed robberies

Posted: Sunday, March 11, 2001

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- A 17-year-old Fairbanks youth charged in connection with two July robberies has been sentenced to six years in prison.

The term handed down Friday was as lenient as Superior Court Judge Richard Savell could manage under state sentencing laws.

Savell expressed sympathy for Cleveland Adams, characterized in the hearing as a mostly upstanding youth who had made a series of terrible mistakes.

The big mistakes were the two armed robberies. Adams robbed a motel early in the morning of July 9, brandishing a gun and demanding cash. The following afternoon, he did the same thing at a pull-tab store.

Adams was indicted in August on two counts of robbery and two counts of theft. He was also indicted on one count of misconduct involving drugs, namely possession of cocaine on Aug. 5.

In December, he agreed to plead no contest to one count of first-degree robbery, with the other charges dropped.

Defense lawyer Susan Carney argued that Adams was under duress.

The teen had run away from home about three weeks earlier and he needed money to pay his rent.

But prosecutor Jay Hodges said Adams used the money for cocaine, not rent.

And he said Adams' situation did not excuse the crimes.

''When a person commits an armed robbery ... they suffer the consequences, no matter what their age is, and that's the bottom line,'' he said arguing for a seven-year prison term.

Adams' lawyer sought a six-year sentence with two and a half years suspended, pointing toward the defendant's age and mostly clean record.

Adams' parents told the judge their son had allowed himself to be influenced by the wrong kind of people. ''This is still a very gullible, gullible teen-ager that is very vulnerable and confused,'' his mother said.

An emotional Adams offered apologies to the victims of the robberies and his family.

''I made a bad decision and I just ended up with trash,'' he said. ''I let trash take me over, and that's why I'm here.''

''I'm the only kid in FCC,'' he added, referring to the Fairbanks Correctional Center. ''I should not be there, I should be in high school. I messed that all up.''

Adams will be eligible for parole in three and a half years.

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