Judge Sentences 22-year-old Woman to 15 Years for Helping in 2012 Robbery

By Trish Mehaffey, The Gazette

Shannon Gaskins told the woman she once regarded as a “good friend” that she wondered why she came to Gaskins’ door with two men who planned to rob Gaskins in 2012.

“I did nothing to deserve this situation,” Gaskins, tearing up, said during a victim’s impact statement Tuesday.

Gaskins, 23, said she helped Shantres Johnson financially in the past and even babysat her children.

Gaskins told the judge she was serving a life sentence in a wheelchair. Being shot that day resulted in Gaskins becoming permanently paralyzed, so she asked the judge to give Johnson the maximum prison time.

Sixth Judicial District Senior Judge Thomas Koehler sentenced Johnson, 22, of Cedar Rapids, to 15 years in prison.

Johnson planned and participated in robbing Gaskins and her boyfriend Alexander White, 24, on April 20, 2012. Johnson took Raymond Sellers and Teran Huff to Gaskins’ apartment that day but stayed outside while the men robbed the couple and Huff shot them.

Johnson pleaded guilty to lesser charges in July of conspiracy to commit a forcible felony and willful injury as an aider and abettor/joint participant. She also admitted Tuesday to violating her probation from a previous conviction of false use of a credit card.

She originally was charged with two counts of attempted murder, two counts of willful injury causing serious injury, conspiracy to commit a forcible felony and going armed.

Assistant Linn County Attorney Jason Burns said Johnson received the plea agreement because she cooperated with police in the case and testified against Sellers at his trial in May. She also never entered the apartment and didn’t have the weapon.

Johnson told the judge she was sorry for what she did to Gaskins and knew that she had “taken away more than she could imagine.” She said she had learned a lot about herself since being in jail and losing the rights to her children.

Johnson said she was going to work on becoming a better citizen, mother and sister.

Koehler ran the probation violation and this sentence consecutively for a total of 15 years. He also suspended the fines so Johnson can pay victim’s restitution, which will be determined later.

A Linn County jury found Sellers, 24, of Chicago, guilty of two counts of willful injury causing serious injury, two counts of assault with intent to inflict serious injury and one count of simple assault in May. He faces up to 24 years in prison.

Huff, 26, of Des Moines, pleaded guilty last year in the case and is serving 55 years in prison.

Huff testified during Sellers’ trial and claimed Sellers didn’t know anything about the robbery Huff admitted to help planning. He said Sellers thought they were going to the Kirkwood Court Apartments to buy marijuana.

Gaskins, who also testified at that trial, said Johnson knew her grandfather had died and left her $45,000.

Sellers didn’t testify but first told investigators during an videotaped interview played at trial that he didn’t go inside the apartment. Later in the interview, he said he went inside but didn’t know about the robbery. He said he was only there to buy marijuana.

l Comments: (319) 398-8318; trish.mehaffey@thegazette.com

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