STONEBORO — Judge Robert G. Yeatts said Tuesday he usually has one case in sentence court that keeps him awake at night, and this one is it.
About 10 of Shantasia Kirchell’s family members were in Mercer County Common Pleas court, and some openly cried, as she was sentenced to three to 10 years in a state prison for sticking up a Stoneboro gas station in December.
Yeatts said the sentence is below the standard range because the commonwealth did not ask for the mandatory, and many family members wrote letters requesting that Kirchell be placed in a drug-rehabilitation facility.
“I am not this type of person when I’m not on drugs,” Kirchell said. “I’m fun-loving and would do anything for anyone.”
Yeatts noted that while Kerchell was out on bond she committed four criminal offenses in Allegheny and Mercer counties.
Defense attorney Randall T. Hetrick said Kirchell, 20, is not the type of person who commits armed robbery.
“She was not ready to be out of jail. She should’ve been in jail for six months,” he said.
Kirchell served one day in Mercer County jail for the Dec. 1 robbery and was released from jail Dec. 11 after posting bond.
Yeatts gave Kirchell credit for that day and 44 days served in drug rehab and she was fined courts costs and $160 restitution to Dye’s Service Station.
Kirchell, wearing a mask and gloves, entered the store, owned by her stepfather’s friend, pointed a gun at him, and got away with money she used to buy drugs, state police said.
Hetrick told the judge Kirchell was in a car accident in 2010, started taking prescription drugs for a back problem and got addicted.
Kirchell’s mother, Gladys Stevenson, spoke on her daughter’s behalf through tears and at times openly sobbing.
She said she was there to support her daughter, as she had many times in the past; at soccer and softball games, when she won trophies, and for every Girl Scout badge she earned.
Stevenson said she also applauded her daughter when she walked for the first time after back surgery.
“She’s an active, wonderful young lady,” Stevenson testified. “She’s fallen on hard times; she’s become a drug addict.”
“But, I love her as much today as I did when she was born,” her mother said.
Yeatts told Kirchell although he feels bad for her family, her actions will have a longtime affect on a lot of people.
“I don’t shed any tears for you, my sympathy goes to him,” Yeatts said, referring to the owner of the service station.
“You came up with a plan for the robbery. You wore a disguise, masks, gloves. You also dragged a minor into this,” Yeatts said.
“You had plenty of time to say, ‘this is a stupid idea,’” he told Kirchell.
Kirchell apologized to the victims, her family and the court.
“I am ashamed and embarrassed.” she said. “I just don’t want to live this way anymore.”
Yeatts told her she will get a chance to dry out in jail, and that she should take advantage of the rehab services available to her there.