Editor’s Note: This is Part One of a two-part opinion piece by Judge Teske. Part Two will appear on Thursday. Henry reached into the back seat of his car to retrieve the pizzas. He grabbed them, turned around, and staring at him was the barrel of a gun. “Give me the pizza and money,” said the masked man.
Following this week’s state Supreme Court ruling, the definition of “armed robbery” in Georgia has been changed. Now, according to the state’s high court, a person can be convicted of armed robbery without ever taking anything. The case stems from an incident in March 2009 when defendant Francisco Gutierrez, then 16, and four others entered a Chinese restaurant in Winder, Ga. while armed with an assortment of weapons, including a handgun, an aluminum baseball bat and a hammer. An undercover officer witnessed the incident and fearing for the safety of the owner and a small child inside, fired at the intruders.
So you’re 16 years old and broke. And you’re sitting around brainstorming ways to get money. On a whim you decide to stick up the convenience store around the corner. You don’t want to hurt anyone; you just want the dough. To be sure you’ll even use a fake gun.