Reynoldsburg News

Siblings sentenced for 2012 robbery

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Two Canal Winchester siblings were sentenced in U.S. District Court last week for the May 2012 armed robbery of a Reynoldsburg jewelry store.

Darnell J. Harris, 26, was sentenced Dec. 18 to 14 years and three months in prison, and his sister, Mariah Harris, 20, was sentenced to nine years, for what U.S. attorneys called a "takeover-style armed robbery" May 21, 2012 at Heins Jewelers, 2843 Taylor Road.

Along with the prison time, the pair was ordered to pay $58,519.31 in restitution to the business, the victims and the store's insurance company.

Documents filed with the court by his attorney said Darnell Harris had invented a workout suit and needed money to pay for getting it manufactured. However, he couldn't find any investors after a manufacturer quoted him a price; that's when he started planning a robbery with his sister.

According to court documents, Mariah Harris entered the jewelry store posing as a customer shopping for engagement rings. Once she had distracted the two employees, her brother came in with a handgun and ordered the employees into a back room.

He tied them up and when Cory Heins -- a member of the family that owns the business -- tried to escape, Darnell Harris beat him unconscious, causing severe face and head trauma.

The documents stated that Darnell Harris repeatedly told Heins he planned to shoot him and told both employees he would kill their families if police were notified of the crime.

Investigators had little to go on until three months after the robbery when Heins happened to see and recognize the pair in a Pickerington Kroger store.

Reynoldsburg and Pickerington police caught up with Darnell Harris during a traffic stop March 21 in Pickerington. His sister surrendered to Reynoldsburg police shortly after he was arrested.

Both were charged with one count of obstructing interstate commerce by robbing the store and Darnell Harris also was charged with one count of brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence, according to court documents.

Reynoldsburg police said the two got away with more than $50,000 worth of jewelry and $3,000 in cash, plus took the store's surveillance system and its videos.

Both pleaded guilty to the robbery Sept. 3 in federal court.

Reynoldsburg Police Chief Jim O'Neill, along with Carter M. Stewart, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, and Michael Boxler, special agent in charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), announced the sentences handed down in the case.

Stewart commended the investigation conducted by Reynoldsburg police and the ATF.

Darnell Harris is a former Pickerington High School Central football player and also played as a defensive lineman for Ohio University in 2008.

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