Middletown man sentenced to prison for summer Kroger robbery spree

Suspect demanded cash from cashier using a note, report says.

A Middletown man was sentenced to prison Thursday for a Kroger robbery spree in June that led police on a chase before he was apprehended by a K-9.

Leonardo A. Cornwall III, 19, pleaded guilty in August to three robbery charges, all third-degree felonies, receiving stolen property, a fourth-degree felony and failure to comply, also a fourth degree felony for robberies at Kroger stores in Lemon Twp., West Chester Twp. and on Towne Boulevard in Middletown, which is in Warren County. The robberies occurred on June 10 and June 11.

Butler County Court of Common Pleas Judge Jennifer McElfresh sentenced Cornwall to 15 months in prison.

Cornwall faced a maximum of 12 years in prison, but the defense made an argument for leniency including serving a sentence at a community based correctional facility or community control, noting his young age, lack of past criminal felony record and the fact a gun was not used in the robberies.

Attorney Lawrence Hawkins III said in a sentencing memorandum that Cornwall is a Middletown High School grad who has completed a year of college and aspires to open a restaurant.

Cornwall is “genuinely remorseful”, has taken responsibility and is undergoing drug treatment, the defense attorney said, adding no one was harmed during the criminal activity and Cornwall only got cash from one robbery.

McElfresh’s courtroom was filled with supporters of Cornwall and letters of support were also written to the judge.

Cornwall passed a note to a cashier at the Oxford State Road store, stating, “Put all the money in the bag or I’ll shoot you. I have a gun,” according to the Butler County Sheriff’s Office report and court documents.

The note was passed after a suspect asked a bagger to get some peanut butter he had forgotten. The cashier said she did not know what to do so she gave him back the note and walked away.

The suspect was seen fleeing the store wearing all black, a mask and blue gloves. He did not get any money, according to the report.

He was also seen leaving the parking lot in a white sedan going east on Oxford State Road.

Minutes later, a Middletown police officer spotted a similar car in the city, which was reported stolen and like one used in other area Kroger robberies. The officer tried to make a traffic stop at Waite and Sherman streets, but the driver refused to stop and took off on University Boulevard.

After a chase with speeds more than 80 miles per hour, the driver attempted to make a turn onto Breiel Boulevard but crashed in the median, according to police and court complaints.

Cornwall fled on foot toward a nearby high school and was chased by officers and a K-9 called Bear, who subdued him, according to police.

Sheriff’s deputies searched the reportedly stolen car Cornwall was driving and found a facial covering and notes similar to the one the cashier described. After treatment for a dog bite, he was booked into the city jail.

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