Malcolm Hines, the shoe shop owner arrested earlier this year after police found a shotgun in his store, was sentenced today to 18 months on felony gun charges.
I wrote about Hines last month, a time when his fellow Congress Heights business owners were becoming increasingly frustrated with sometimes violent attacks on their businesses, including the Oct. 17 killing of a gas station worker. Few suspects have been arrested in the various crimes, but Hines was arrested in March and convicted in October for possessing a weapon kept for self-defense at his shop, City Beats.
The 18 months from Superior Court Judge Robert I. Richter was less than the 30-month minimum sentence recommended in a pretrial sentencing report and the 40 months sought by prosecutors.
In a letter to Richter, Hines wrote that he had “sorrow for anything I have done to the community.” But he asked the judge to consider the violence he has dealt with as a businessman, including a Nov. 13 robbery that he said has “shaken my mind, heart, and soul as a man.”
His wife, Sherita McLamore-Hines, was working at City Beats after closing that Sunday night when three gunmen entered, robbing the store and holding a gun to her head. “I am helpless I can’t protect my family against this attack,” he wrote. “These criminals are still at large destroying people lives, livelihood and the community.”
Hines, who has several prior felony convictions on his record but has avoided trouble since last leaving prison in 2007, noted he had opened a business, gotten married and otherwise kept on the straight and narrow. More than 100 supporters sent letters on behalf of Hines, Richter said.
But Hines’s recent history, prosecutors wrote in their pre-sentencing memo, “does not and cannot give [him] a free pass at sentencing.” They noted his prior convictions included gun and drug charges and that his “refusal to face up to his violations of the law undercuts his plea for mercy.”
“Eighteen months was about as good as we could have hopes for,” McLamore-Hines said outside Richter’s courtroom.
She said she was going to do her best to keep City Beats open while her husband serves his time. “I don’t know what’s ahead of us,” she said, “but this one hurdle is behind us.”
Hines’s letter to Richter:
The prosecution sentencing memo: