An East St. Louis man was sentenced Tuesday to 11 years in prison for robbing an O’Fallon gold buyer shop at gunpoint in June 2016.
Trent L. Yates, 29, and Wadell R. Savage Jr., 23, entered Dollars 4 Gold and “immediately jumped the counter, pointed guns at them (three victims) and demanded cash and valuables,” according to O’Fallon police. The two ran from the store and a witness in the parking lot called 911.
An O’Fallon officer in the area managed to catch Yates, and when Yates was tackled by the officer, coins and other loot were “spilling out of his pockets,” according to Assistant State’s Attorney John Trippi.
Trippi asked Judge Randall Kelley to impose a 15-year sentence. After the robbery, Trippi said, the shop owners were so frightened that they “felt the need to arm themselves.” He also pointed out that Yates has three prior felony convictions.
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During the sentencing, Yates said that he understood the seriousness of his crime.
“My mom out there, making legitimate money. I don’t want anyone coming up on her with a gun,” he said.
The judge asked Yates if he was high during the robbery, to which Yates replied he had been on heroin at the time.
“I was just following with the wrong crowd, but I know that’s no excuse,” Yates said. “I’m grown and can think for myself.”
Savage, Yates’ partner in the robbery, was sentenced Oct. 9 to 10 years in prison. Yates’ attorney, Tom Philo, requested Yates be given the same sentence since they had similar roles in the robbery.
Kelley, however, gave Yates an 11-year sentence, saying Yates’ criminal history caused him to get more time than his cohort.
“In that time, if you accomplish nothing else, I want you to think of your momma and what situation she would be in if you came up on her,” Kelley said. “Those people are somebody’s mother, brother, sister, auntie. They need protection.”
Yates was deemed unfit to stand trial in April 2017 after being ordered by the court to undergo psychological and intelligence evaluations.
According to court documents, Yates spent several months in custody of the Department of Human Services for treatment. On June 24, he was found to be fit to stand trial and in October, he pleaded guilty to the charge of armed robbery.
Yates also requested to be admitted into a drug treatment program, which Kelley granted.