Three of four co-defendants who played a role in a 2018 armed home invasion and robbery received sentences today in Appomattox County Circuit Court. 

The incident took place at Jan. 27 around 3 am. on Paradise Road in the Concord area. Three perpetrators entered the home -- one proceeded to assault a female victim and, with help from another, steal credit cards from her purse. The third man held the other victim at gunpoint. 

Melvin Edward Lee Martin, 31, of Appomattox, was sentenced to serve a total of 15 years with another 38 years suspended. His charges (to which he pleaded no contest in November but was found guilty today by Circuit Court Judge Andy Nelson) include two counts of armed burglary, two counts of robbery, two counts of abduction by force, and one count each of using a firearm during a felony and possession of a firearm by a violent felon. Martin was described in court as the "mastermind" behind the plot although he claimed to not recall his actions that night due to substance abuse. 

Erica Leigh Mays, 38, of Madison Heights, pleaded guilty to felony charges of credit card theft, burglary, robbery and misdemeanor assault. Mays was sentenced to serve three years for the felonies plus an additional 12 months for the misdemeanor. Seventeen years of suspended time was also applied. 

Dakota Blake Fitzgerald, 24, of Madison Heights, entered an Alford plea (not admitting guilt but agreeing that the evidence is enough to convict) to a charge of conspiracy to commit robbery. He was sentenced to serve three months with four years and nine months suspended. Evidence summarized in court stated that Fitzgerald was the driver of the van that left the scene of the crime -- however, he stayed in the van and did not enter the home during the robbery. According to his attorney, Joseph Sanzone, Fitzgerald claimed he did not plan to be involved but was threatened by Martin to drive the van to and from the location. Those claims were not substantiated as either true or false in court today.  

The fourth co-defendant, 23-year-old Christian Matthew Hall, of Lynchburg, was sentenced Jan. 2 to serve three and a half years on charges of breaking and entering, robbery and abduction by force or intimidation. 

For the rest of the story, see the Jan. 22 edition of the Times Virginian.