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story.lead_photo.caption Craig Eugene Taylor

NEW BOSTON, Texas — A man who pointed a pistol at a convenience store clerk working alone in September 2018 was sentenced to 40 years in prison Friday by a Bowie County jury.

Craig Eugene Taylor, 23, was found guilty Thursday of aggravated robbery and on Friday the jury decided he should serve 40 years in prison and assessed a fine of $10,000. The jury heard testimony during the sentencing phase about Taylor's prior conviction for felony unlawful restraint in 2015.

That conviction meant Taylor faced a 15-year rather than a five-year minimum punishment.

Assistant District Attorney Katie Carter said the sentence reflects the low tolerance Bowie County has for violent crime.

"Multiple aggravated robberies had occurred in this area in the weeks and days preceding this one," Assistant District Attorney Katie Carter said. "The identification of those individuals was difficult to determine. With the quick response and due diligence of the patrol officers that responded to the EZ Mart aggravated robbery, necessary evidence was located and collected, which ultimately allowed this defendant to be held accountable for his actions. I also appreciate the jurors who served during these unusual circumstances."

Jurors were given seats in the section of the courtroom typically occupied by spectators to allow for social distancing. Other measures to ensure social distancing were undertaken by 5th District Judge Bill Miller and court staff.

Taylor wore a mask and changed his clothes after attempting Sept. 19, 2018, to rob the EZ Mart at 1603 Robison Road in Texarkana, Texas. The clerk was able to activate an alarm which led Taylor to flee empty handed.

As police were searching the area of the robbery for a suspect, a second 911 call reporting a robbery of a convenience store less than two miles away was received. Investigators believe Taylor made the second call to create a diversion.

A backpack containing a cell phone and clothing from the robbery was recovered by police. A shirt in the backpack was found to have traces of Taylor's DNA. Taylor was represented by the Bowie County Public Defender's Office.

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