Prosecutors were seeking the maximum punishment for a local man with a notorious criminal past, who was convicted Thursday of his fifth armed robbery.
“It is just time we washed our hands of this problem,” said Assistant Hunt County District Attorney Steven Lilley, as he asked 354th District Court Judge Richard A. Beacom to sentence Mark Anthony Young to life in prison.
Young took the stand during the sentencing hearing, apologized to his victims and asked Beacom for leniency.
“I throw myself on the mercy of the court,” Young said. “I hope you accept my apology for that.”
Beacom noted that he would be more inclined to show leniency if the crime for which Young was charged was an isolated incident.
“But this is your 10th felony conviction,” Beacom said, in sentencing Young to 50 years in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice-Institutional Division.
Earlier in the day Young was formally convicted of the May 16, 2013 armed hold-up of the Circle G convenience store in Greenville.
As a deadly weapon was found to have been used during the commission of the offense, Young, 35, will have to spend at least half of the sentence, or 25 years, in prison before will be eligible to be considered for parole.
Young had already served prison time on previous convictions for armed robbery and was convicted of a federal charge of arson in connection with two set fires at Greenville churches in 1996.
According to a report from the Greenville Police Department, Young was alleged to have entered the store, displayed a weapon, and ordered the female employee at the cash register to give him money. The employee complied and Young left the store.
In March 1997, Young pleaded guilty to a federal charge of arson in connection with the June 16, 1996 fire at the Church of the Living God in Greenville. As part of a plea agreement, U.S. Judge Sidney Fitzwater sentenced Young to the eight months he had already served in federal custody and a separate federal charge, alleging Young set the June 9, 1996 arson fire at the New Light House of Prayer in Greenville, was dismissed, as was a pending state level arson charge concerning a set fire at a local residence that same summer.
Young was reported to have an IQ of 53, although he was found to be mentally competent to stand trial prior to the plea hearing.
As part of the plea agreement, Young was placed on three years of supervised release, during which he was ordered to commit no further crimes.
In October 1997, Young was indicted by the Hunt County grand jury on a charge of engaging in organized criminal activity. Young was alleged in the indictment to have acted alongside four local juveniles in stealing eight automobiles from local dealerships during August 1997.
Young later pleaded guilty to two counts of unauthorized use of a motor vehicle and was sentenced to two years in state jail.
Young pleaded guilty again on April 29, 2001, this time to four counts of aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon and two counts of unauthorized use of a motor vehicle. Young was alleged to have committed armed hold-ups at local convenience stores on four occasions between Dec. 13, 2000 and Jan. 4, 2001 and to have stolen two vehicles from Greenville automobile dealerships during the summer of 2000.
Young was sentenced to 12 years in prison on each of the armed robbery charges and two years in state jail on the stolen vehicle charges, with the sentences to run concurrently.
Testimony Thursday revealed that Young served the entire sentence of 12 years without making parole.
Due to his criminal record, Young was facing a sentence of from 15 years to life in prison for the conviction on the charge of aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon.
Lilley asked for the life sentence because he claimed Young has not shown he is capable of living peacefully outside of prison.
“There is nothing left to do with Mr. Young,” Lilley said. “He has been a one-man crime spree here in Hunt County, except for the time he’s been in prison.”
Defense attorney Chris Castanon also asked Beacom for leniency for his client, recommending against a minimum sentence, but for one short enough to where Young would have a chance of a successful life when he is eventually released.