By JAMES MITCHELL
Sunday Times Newspapers
TRENTON — A 62-year-old man told police he expected to “go back to prison” after he was arrested last week and charged with unarmed robbery and unlawful imprisonment after binding and gagging a convenience store clerk.
Coupled with a history as a habitual offender — with more than two decades spent behind bars featured on a rap sheet that dates back to a 1974 rape conviction — Leslie Wayne McGinnis may spend life in prison if found guilty.
According to Trenton police reports, a man matching McGinnis’ description walked into 7-Eleven, 1901 King Road, about 3:15 a.m. Monday and demanded that the clerk give him any money that was in the cash register. The clerk first pressed an alarm button before removing the currency from the drawer.
The man told her he’d seen her press the alarm, and that he wouldn’t hurt her if “she listened to his demands.” The man did not reveal a weapon, but directed the clerk to a back room where he duct-taped her wrists together and covered her mouth before leaving the store.
The clerk was quickly able to free herself from the duct tape and call 911, after which she locked herself in the store until police arrived.
Two officers became involved then, one who answered the dispatch summons to the store, a second who was on patrol near Fort Street and Veterans Parkway. Turning from northbound Fort Street onto King Road, the officer saw a 1999 Volkswagen four-door turning east onto King. It was the only vehicle in sight on the road, and the officer followed. A traffic stop was made as the car’s tail lights were not functioning.
The officer saw only one occupant in the vehicle, and he ordered the driver out of the car and asked what he was doing out at that hour.
“You know, just trying to get some money,” McGinnis said.
McGinnis was searched, and the officer found a pocket bag filled with coins and a blue-and-white bandana that matched a description provided by the clerk. McGinnis was taken into custody.
“I can’t believe I was so stupid,” McGinnis said, according to police reports. “I’m losing my house and I figured I could make some quick money. Now I’m going back to prison.”
While being processed McGinnis repeatedly lamented how stupid he had been, and that he knew he would be going back to prison.
Beginning with a rape conviction in 1974 at age 23, McGinnis’ conviction record includes unarmed robbery in the 1970s, armed robbery in the 1980s for which he served more than 10 years, two counts of armed robbery in 1996 which put him back behind bars for another decade, and an unarmed robbery charge in 2006 for which he was released in 2011.
Evidence collected by police included the bandana, duct tape, the register drawer that was found in McGinnis’s Volkswagen which contained an undisclosed amount of cash, and surveillance video footage.
McGinnis was arraigned Monday before 33rd District Court Judge Michael McNally on charges of unarmed robbery and unlawful imprisonment. Prosecutors were seeking charges for McGinnis as a habitual offender. A preliminary examination of the evidence against him is scheduled for Tuesday.
(James Mitchell can be reached at [email protected])