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Pasco jury convicts man in convenience store robbery

NEW PORT RICHEY — When the jury said he was guilty, 32-year-old Morgan Armstrong hung his head. He said nothing.

Armstrong could face life in prison for the October 2009 robbery of Beverages Plus on State Road 52 in Hudson. The jury deliberated for less than an hour Thursday before finding Armstrong guilty of robbery with a deadly weapon. He will be sentenced Nov. 15. The minimum sentence is 51/2 years.

Armstrong represented himself in court, though he's asked his stand-in attorney, Geoff Cox, to represent him during his sentencing hearing, Cox said Thursday.

Armstrong "was obviously disappointed" in the jury's verdict, Cox said. "He was quiet and reserved."

Cox said the victim in the robbery, Falguni Patel, finished her testimony Thursday after fainting while on the stand Wednesday. A family member waved a sneaker underneath Patel's nose in an attempt to revive her, telling the courtroom this happens often. Patel was wheeled out of the courtroom on a stretcher.

She was nervous Thursday, but made it through her testimony without fainting, Cox said.

Patel said she knew it was Armstrong who robbed her at knifepoint because she recognized his eyes and voice. The robber wore a mask.

Armstrong allegedly robbed the same store twice in 2009 before he was caught. He goes to trial Sept. 19 for the second robbery, which was also at knifepoint. He is also charged with robbery with a deadly weapon and faces a second maximum sentence of life in prison.

He plans to represent himself in court.

Erin Sullivan can be reached at esullivan@sptimes.com or (727) 869-6229.

Pasco jury convicts man in convenience store robbery 09/08/11 [Last modified: Thursday, September 8, 2011 9:00pm]
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