A man who told a Wal-Mart employee “this isn’t worth dying for” has been convicted in the July 2, 2014, robbery at the Pass Christian store, prosecutors said.
A Harrison County jury believed testimony that Larenzo Arthur Pettis tried to leave the store with a flatscreen television and put his hand in his pocket in a threatening manner as he made the comment, District Attorney Joel Smith said Wednesday.
Circuit Judge Judge Christ Schmidt sentenced Pettis to 15 years in prison but suspended eight years, leaving Pettis to serve seven years. Schmidt also ordered five years of post-release supervision.
The judge considered Pettis’ 2003 conviction for attempted robbery and numerous misdemeanor arrests, Smith said.
Pettis, 34, was a former Wal-Mart employee who had been arrested on a similar charge at a different Wal-Mart.
Prosecutors said an assistant manager testified he saw Pettis acting suspiciously about 4 a.m. and confronted him as he tried to leave the store with a flat-panel LG-brand TV. That’s when Pettis made the threatening comment and gesture, they said.
Another employee testified Pettis grabbed the TV out of his shopping cart and ran from the store as the assistant manager backed away.
The jury saw a store video that showed the exchange, said Assistant District Attorney Chris Carter, who prosecuted the case with ADA Mitch Owen.
Pettis’ attorney asked the jury to consider the lesser offense of misdemeanor shoplifting.
Carter said he told the jury in closing arguments under the law, shoplifting is elevated to a robbery when there’s a confrontation that causes fear.