By John L. Ross / Staff Writer
A jury trial for the man accused in the robberies of two Corbin businesses was averted Friday after the accused pleaded guilty.
Jason A. Wagers, 35, of London, faced two counts of first-degree robbery, five counts of first-degree unlawful imprisonment and four counts of first-degree wanton endangerment in connection with last year’s robberies of the Cash Express and Taco Bell.
On Friday, Wagers stood handcuffed with his attorney, Stephen Jones, before Judge Gregory Lay in Laurel County Circuit Court for what was to be a pretrial hearing.
He was slated for trial in those robberies July 24, after which he could have received as much as a 65-year prison sentence — 20 years apiece for the robberies, and five years apiece for the unlawful imprisonment charges.
Instead, Wagers chose to accept a plea agreement.
Once Lay asked Wagers the standard questions of his health, competency and understanding of the proceedings at hand, it was time to review the agreement.
Wagers agreed to a sentence of 12 years for the two first-degree robberies and the five counts of first-degree unlawful imprisonment.
He is now scheduled to be officially sentenced Aug. 26.
In October, a man wearing a dark hoodie with his mouth covered by a handkerchief walked into Taco Bell, pulled out a handgun, and demanded money from the manager. The manager was forced to comply, emptying the cash registers into a take-out bag.
According to the 14-count indictment, the gunman then forced the four employees on duty into the freezer at gunpoint, saying he “would blow their brains out” if they tried to leave.
That gunman was Wagers.
No one was injured during that robbery. The suspect fled on foot.
The June robbery of the Cash Express netted the suspect nearly $3,000. In that robbery, a lone gunman forced loan officer Kim Winkler to hand over the money, then forced her into the bathroom at gunpoint. She was not injured during the robbery.
The gunman in that robbery was also Wagers.
He was arrested and charged with these robberies Nov. 2 — Laurel County Detective Jason Back allegedly found Wagers hiding in the utility closet of a Hidden Acres Drive residence.
It was learned during Wagers’ December indictment that witnesses in that robbery, including close acquaintances and his own father, identified Wagers as the suspect by his demeanor, jewelry, clothing and voice.
But these are not the only charges Wagers faces. He just appeared Monday in Whitley County Circuit Court, where he was indicted with another man for a first-degree robbery and theft by unlawful taking property valued at more than $500 but less tan $10,000 which occurred in September. He also faced Judge Lay in February in Knox County Circuit Court, where he was indicted for his fourth offense of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicants among other charges.