Circle K robbery netted Theodore man 100 cigarette cartons, $51 – and a federal conviction

Published: Apr. 24, 2023 at 6:05 PM CDT
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MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - A stick-up in 2021 yielded a small bounty, but it landed a Theodore man in federal court and the almost-certain prospect of a lengthy sentence.

Justin Devann Pickens, 29, pleaded guilty Monday to interfering with interstate commerce and brandishing a firearm during a violent crime. The first count is punishable by up to 20 years in prison; the second carries a mandatory-minimum term of seven years on top of whatever the sentence is for the first offense.

According to the defendant’s written plea agreement, he entered the Circle K store on U.S. 90 in July 2021 in a black ski mask, a red glove on one hand and a black glove on the other. He admitted to pointing a handgun at the clerk, taking $31 from the register and another $20 in rolled coins, as well as 100 cigarette cartons.

Mobile police obtained a search warrant for Pickens’ home and found the clothes he was wearing during the hold-up and duffle bag containing cigarette cartons, as well as a black handgun in he back bedroom.

A year later, Pickens admitted his crime in a letter he sent to Mobile County Circuit Judge Jill Phillips seeking a bond hearing.

“I am man enough to admit I made a mistake, nobody is perfect but God an I realize I can’t take back what I did,” he wrote in the letter, which contained several grammar errors. “I just need a second chance. … This is also my first time with these offenses. If you check my record, you will see that. My actions where driven by someone making a threat to my family my actions where not my own direction.”