SYCAMORE – A Chicago man who claimed to be the impromptu, dumbfounded getaway driver after an armed robbery at the Sycamore 7-Eleven was found guilty of armed violence Thursday and will spend at least the next
21 years in prison.
DeKalb County Judge William Brady found DeAngelo D. Bryant, 22, of the 1100 block of West 10th Street in Chicago, guilty of armed robbery, armed violence, aggravated battery with a firearm and burglary regarding the July events at the convenience store at 404 W. State St.
Bryant’s sentencing date is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Aug. 15. He faces from 21 to 45 years in prison on the armed robbery charge alone, said Suzanne Collins, DeKalb County assistant state’s attorney.
Brady said he likened his rationale in this case to a phrase within the gospel of Matthew in the Bible.
“By their grapes, you should know them,” he said.
Bryant took the stand Thursday, saying that he was listening to music from the speakers of Terrence E. Storey’s car while riding in the backseat when they were driving to Sycamore. He said he didn’t know where they were going at the time, had never been to Sycamore before and that he only somewhat overheard Storey and Tevin T. Woods talking in the front seat before going into the Sycamore 7-Eleven.
“They were talking about money and how to get some,” Bryant said.
Bryant said he was waiting in the car during the crimes and moved to the driver’s seat after Storey told him to and that he had no idea an armed robbery was happening at the time. He said he didn’t see the gun until just before crashing in Elmhurst hours later.
He said he ran away from police after the crash because he saw the gun on Storey’s lap and because there was marijuana in the car.
A clerk at the Sycamore 7-Eleven, Raymundo Cortes, testified Wednesday that he was shot twice in the lower body during a struggle between him, Storey and Woods.
Cortes said that he was working his usual night shift July 24 at the 7-Eleven on West State Street when a man came in asking for cigarettes, followed by another who pointed a gun at him and told him to open the safe.
Cortes said he told the gunman he couldn’t open the safe. The second man wanted him to open the office, and he told him he couldn’t because he didn’t have a key. That was when Cortes was repeatedly hit and dragged to the office door by the two men and then was shot with a .22-caliber handgun when he again said that he couldn’t open the office.
Cortes said he pushed a button to call 911 after he was dragged back to the cash register and then the men left. He was hospitalized for three days with gunshot wounds.
Woods and Bryant were arrested shortly after 1:30 a.m. July 25 after a single-vehicle crash near North and Indiana avenues in Elmhurst, according to court records. Storey was arrested after Elmhurst police found him later that morning under a resident’s outdoor deck.
Prosecutors said, according to police interview footage submitted as evidence during the trial, Bryant admitted he was the getaway driver in the Sycamore robbery and another robbery in Carol Stream.
Bob Nolan, Bryant’s lawyer, said during closing statements there was no evidence in the case that proved that Bryant knew what was going to happen when he went along for a ride from Chicago to Sycamore before being arrested in Elmhurst.
Collins said during closing statements that Bryant knew exactly what was going to happen to Cortes and Manubhai Brahmbhatt, the clerk who was held up at gunpoint at a BP in Carol Stream. She said the three men targeted the clerks because they were law-abiding citizens and vulnerable targets.
“The defendant was sitting outside with his foot on the brake, ready to do his job,” Collins said.
Storey, of the 300 block of West 100th Street, and Woods, 27, of the 6000 block of South Ellis Avenue, Chicago, have yet to stand trial. If convicted, Woods could face 21 to 45 years in prison; Storey, who police said admitted he fired the gun twice to scare the clerk, could face 31 years to life in prison.
DeKalb County State’s Attorney Rick Amato said it’s unclear how much more prison time could be tacked onto Bryant’s sentence, considering the other charges against Bryant.
Amato said he is pleased with the results of Bryant’s case but said he cannot comment beyond that because of the two pending cases concerning Woods and Storey.
Brady said it was important for him to look at prior offenses of Bryant and Storey, 28, who robbed other gas stations in the two months before the events in Sycamore and Carol Stream.
“These are the deeds that, by their deeds, you should know them,” Brady said. “By their robberies, you should know them.”