One of two individuals charged with trying to rob a Cullen store pled guilty to related charges Friday.
Mattavious Wortham was sentenced by 26th Judicial District Judge Jeff Thompson to five years at hard labor with the Louisiana Department of Corrections without the benefit of parole or suspension of sentence on a charge of second-degree robbery. He was sentenced to 33 years at hard labor with the Louisiana Department of Corrections without the benefit of parole or suspension of sentence to the charge of attempted robbery with the use of a firearm, and 33 years at hard labor with the Louisiana Department of Corrections without benefit for attempted second-degree murder. All sentences are to run concurrent, or at the same time, with credit for time served.
The charges of distribution of a Schedule II CDS, resisting an officer with force or violence, conspiracy to commit armed robbery and racketeering were dismissed.
Assistant district attorney Hugo Holland says they agreed to a plea deal simply because it can’t be appealed.
“While the state could have perhaps gotten a more severe penalty had we gone to trial, by taking this plea, we not only satisfied our main victim, but also circumvented the whole appeals process,” he said in an email to the Press-Herald. “There is no appeal from a plea and an agreed sentence like we have here.”
He went on to say that by the time he gets out of prison, Wortham will have had the chance to make something of himself and become a productive member of society.
“He can get a GED, learn a skill such as a painter or carpenter or electrician, and hopefully, one day in 2048, he will walk out of Angola a wise, harmless and productive human being,” he said.
Cameron Sumlin, one of the victims in the case and part owner of the store Wortham tried to rob, says he was satisfied with the plea deal and the sentenced imposed.
“I’m really satisfied in the justice system,” he said. “I personally called every day three or four times a day making sure that this case was not messed up. DA Schuyler Marvin and Assistant DA Hugo Holland, they comforted me, and we were all able to come to an agreement on the plea deal. I’ll be an old man by the time he gets out.”
The other defendant in this case, Bernell Lewis, Wortham’s cousin, pled guilty to attempted armed robbery, an amended charge offered in exchange for his testimony against Wortham had the case gone to trial.
Cullen police reported two suspects entered a business and went around a counter to the area where a safe was located, Springhill Police Chief Will Lynd said at the time of Lewis’ arrest.
Lynd says they did not get into the safe and they did not get any money.
“The suspect fired a shot at the owner, who was not injured,” Lynd said at the time of his arrest. “The individuals then left the business on foot.”
According to Wortham’s bill of information, he tried to kill the business owner during the commission of the robbery.
“My main concern is that he took 30 minutes out of his life to destroy himself,” Sumlin said. “He’s a young man, and my main concern is for the youth that’s here to see that it’s not worth it.”
Sumlin claims Wortham was part of a gang in the Cullen area called LOE, or Loyalty Over Everything, and he wants the youth to see how quickly a life can be destroyed by bad decisions.
“You give your life away to the state of Louisiana, when he could have gone to work for Walmart for 30 years and retired and been living well,” he said. “The main thing is the youth will look at this, and say, ‘Hey man, I’m going to go get a job and not try to do something like this, because it’s not worth it.’ We just hope this will be a deterrent, that someone will think five times before they do something like this.”
He thanked Cullen police chief Mary Hoof, Lynd and the Webster Parish DA’s office for working so well together, saying he appreciates their efforts to bring this case to a close.
While no injuries were reported when the incident occurred, Sumlin says his father, the person who was shot at as well as the store’s owner, is doing well.
“I’m just glad that my dad is still with us,” Sumlin added. “This idiot could have killed my dad.”
The incident occurred October 2014, and the arrest was the result of a joint investigation by the Cullen and Springhill police departments.