SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A former top junior college football player and another man were each sentenced Friday to five years in state prison for their involvement in a series of takeover-style bank robberies that netted nearly $300,000.
Terry Mixon, 25, was the top junior college football recruit in the nation at his strong safety position at Grossmont College and transferred to Washington State University, where his career was derailed in 2007 by a broken foot and hamstring injury.
"He had a lot going for him" before his injuries, said his attorney, William Daley.
Judge Leo Valentine Jr. said the episode demonstrates why athletes need to make education a priority.
"(Mixon) was pretty much on the path to being a successful athlete, and the thing you don't want to think about happening actually happened," the judge said, referring to athletic career-ending injuries.
Mixon, who played high school football in Compton, and Jeremy Gibbs, 23, are the third and fourth defendants to be sentenced for five robberies committed between September 2008 and January 2009.
Mixon and Gibbs -- who pleaded guilty to a pair of robbery counts two months ago -- came from strong families and had no prior convictions, but went headlong into the criminal lifestyle, the judge said.
"You stepped in full metal to the floor," the judge said.
In a trial involving two co-defendants, victim after victim described what it was like to have guns pressed against their heads, the judge said, noting the experience made some of the victims change careers.
Another defendant, Tranes Goins, was convicted of two counts of robbery and being armed at the time of the crime. He was sentenced last month to 17 years in state prison.
Thaddeus Williams was convicted earlier this year of being the getaway driver in three of the holdups and was sentenced to 14 years and four months behind bars.
Deputy District Attorney Allen Brown said during Williams' trial that the men -- usually in groupings of three or four -- committed takeover-style holdups in which they entered the banks with guns drawn, jumped the counter and ordered the manager to open the vault.
Brown said that on Sept. 30, 2008, three members of the group jumped out of a car and robbed a U.S. Bank branch in Del Mar of $136,807. The robbers wore masks and athletic gloves, and at least two of them had guns, according to the prosecutor, who said two people ordered to the ground were pepper-sprayed.
On Dec. 1, 2008, four robbers got out of a different car and held up a Pacific Western bank branch in Rancho Bernardo of more than $25,500. The robbers got away, but money stained with red dye and a .32-caliber pistol were found outside the bank.
The group also netted nearly $13,000 on Dec. 13, 2008, at a Wells Fargo branch in El Cajon; $103,000 on Dec. 22, 2008, at a U.S. Bank branch in San Marcos; and more than $13,000 on Jan. 24, 2009, from a Bank of America branch in Del Cerro.
The judge set a restitution hearing for Feb. 24. Numerous individual victims are also asking to be paid back amounts that have yet to be determined.
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