The Waynesboro man who took $300 from Scotto’s Italian Restaurant & Pizzeria at gunpoint a year ago was sentenced to 17 years in prison Thursday in Waynesboro court.
Judge Humes J. Franklin Jr. handed the sentence down for robbery and firearm convictions after Douglas Eugene Barnes, 53, and family members, testified about the man’s lifelong alcohol addiction.
“I’m not a person who waves a gun and robs people when I’m sober,” Barnes told Franklin during the sentencing hearing.
Police said Barnes ate a pizza on a Sunday afternoon, then pulled a gun and demanded money from store owner Tommy Scotto. He left the restaurant at 1412 W. Broad St., fired his gun once into the air, then escaped a manhunt involving tracking dogs and a Virginia State Police helicopter, police said.
Barnes was caught three days later near the Rockbridge County line.
He testified Thursday that he hit bottom when he landed in prison on the robbery charges.
“I can’t do this by myself,’ said Barnes, who added he was willing to take medication, see a psychiatrist and do whatever necessary to reform.
“I want my family to like me someday,” he said.
Barnes also said that actions, not words, were all he could offer.
“I must prove to myself that what I say is real,” said Barnes.
He said he previously completed sobriety programs.
Barnes’ sister, Laurie Rhodes, said her brother when sober was someone “there for you” and described him as “loving and hardworking,” but plagued by alcoholism.
The testimony didn’t seem to sway the judge or Waynesboro Commonwealth’s Attorney Charles Ajemian.
Franklin asked Rhodes how robbery was not typical of her brother’s behavior, and pointed to a 1991 conviction in California for robbery for which he served 8 years.
Ajemian said the local court system was not a clinic or treatment center for an illness and cited Barnes’ prior felony convictions and a history of substance abuse including several DUIs.
“We have an obligation to deter others. We can’t do it by giving 142 chances,” Ajemian said.
Barnes awaits sentencing in Augusta County on car theft and breaking and entering charges related to his escape from Waynesboro.