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The Franklin News-Post
P. O. Box 250
310 Main Street, SW
Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151
Fax: 540-483-8013

Bassett man pleads guilty to armed robbery
Charles Gilmore could get life, plus 50 years
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Charles Lawrence Gilmore

Friday, June 27, 2014

By KEN BRADLEY - Staff Writer

A Bassett man faces up to life, plus 50 years, in prison after pleading guilty to two charges and "no contest" to another in connection with an armed robbery at a Ferrum residence on Jan. 7.

Charles Lawrence Gilmore, 31, pleaded guilty to robbery of a residence and breaking and entering while armed with a firearm. Gilmore also pleaded no contest to malicious wounding.

Robbery carries a maximum sentence of life in prison and breaking and entering carries a maximum sentence of 20 years. Malicious assault carries a maximum sentence of 30 years.

Through a plea agreement, six other charges against Gilmore were dismissed.

Gilmore and a second suspect were arrested and charged as the result of an armed robbery that progressed into a shootout with police officers at the residence on Prillaman Switch Road. During the incident, one suspect was shot and a deputy was injured by a bullet from an automatic pistol fired by Gilmore.

One resident of the home, Christine Behrens, testified in a preliminary hearing in March that she awoke a little after 10 p.m. to find a gun pointed in her face. The man holding the gun, whom she identified in court as "Charlie" Gilmore although he was wearing a ski mask at the time, asked her where her drugs were, according to prosecutor Dwight Rudd during his summary of the evidence Thursday in circuit court.

"He said, 'I know you have drugs and I want them now'," Behrens said, and the gunman proceeded to reach into a small refrigerator in her bedroom and pull out two bottles of pills, oxycodone and Benedryl, Rudd said.

Behrens is a paraplegic and Gilmore's girlfriend had been hired two weeks earlier as her aide, Rudd said. Gilmore had been at her residence on several occasions during his girlfriend's employment with her.

In addition to Behrens' medication, Rudd said the robbers took a pistol Behrens kept by her bedside and her tablet computer.

At one point when the robber left her room to search for more drugs, Rudd said Behrens picked up her cordless phone and called police. She tried to hide the phone beneath the covers of her bed, but the second suspect came and took it from her.

A roommate of Behrens, Fred Bowles, was also robbed of $2,200 he had in his wallet, Rudd said. Bowles was suffering from cancer and died several weeks after the incident.

The second suspect in the robbery, Christopher Hardin Jr., 34, is awaiting trial on charges in connection with the case.

Hardin was arrested near the scene about an hour after the incident. Gilmore, who was shot, was arrested following his release from a Roanoke hospital on Jan. 16.

A sentencing hearing for Gilmore is set for Oct. 9 at 3:15 p.m. in circuit court.

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