Gloucester man faces life after robbery conviction

by Kim Robins - Posted on Jun 22, 2011 - 04:08 PM

A 37-year-old Gloucester man faces up to life in prison after pleading guilty in Gloucester Circuit Court Tuesday of robbing the Court House area 7-Eleven store on Route 17 in December.

William Johnathan Christner of Roaring Springs Road also pleaded guilty to using a firearm while committing a robbery and possessing a firearm after having been convicted of a felony. Those convictions carry mandatory sentences totaling five years. Judge R. Bruce Long accepted the pleas and set Christner’s sentencing for Sept. 6.

Gloucester Commonwealth’s Attorney Robert D. Hicks said Christner entered the 7-Eleven around 5:30 p.m. on Dec. 22 and approached clerk Mark Perkins. He said Christner demanded Perkins open the cash register and pulled a gun while telling the clerk he would shoot him if he pressed an alarm button.

Hicks said the clerk gave Christner about $115, mostly in $5 bills, and he departed the store. Hicks said Christner was trying to escape on a bicycle through the nearby Riverside Walter Reed Hospital campus when he was spotted by Lt. S.R. Enoch of the Gloucester Sheriff’s Office.

Enoch activated his emergency lights and tried to stop Christner, who headed toward the Medical Arts Building on the campus where he hit a curb and toppled off the bike, according to a police report. He ran from the pursuing officer until coming up against a fence, which Hicks said he attempted to shove the cash through. Hicks said Enoch demanded Christner stop and get on the ground; instead Christner pulled out the gun and was shot by the officer.

After Christner was transported for treatment for the gunshot wound, Hicks said officers recovered $95 and a 9mm handgun at the scene. Christner was released from the hospital to police custody the following day.

Christner, who has a previous felony conviction for eluding police, had requested a mental evaluation prior to the proceedings Tuesday and was found mentally competent to stand trial.