A Houston County judge sentenced a 57-year-old Dothan man to 35 years in prison for the robbery of a Dothan Waffle House at gunpoint. Circuit Court Judge Brad Mendheim gave Cornelius Newman the prison sentence Tuesday morning for a felony first-degree robbery conviction. A jury found Newman guilty of the robbery in April.
“I didn’t do this,” Newman said just before the court announced sentence. “It was just a misunderstanding.” Newman also suggested one of the jurors knew the district attorney during his trial after he saw the juror speak to the prosecutor during the trial. Attorney T.J. Haywood reminded the court his client’s defense at trial was not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect.
“This wasn’t your typical robbery of a Waffle House. The actual robbery took place for non payment of food,” Haywood said. “He was not on his medication.” Haywood asked for a minimum sentence, and said his client suffered from bi-polar disorder. “Mr. Newman is not your typical robber, if there is such a thing,” Haywood said.
Assistant Houston County District Attorney Kristen Shields said Dothan police arrested Newman on Nov. 8, 2010. Shields said police charged him with the robbery of the Waffle House on South Oates Street near Ross Clark Circle. Shields said Newman ordered food in the restaurant twice within an hour. The first time he didn’t eat the food, and managed to get someone else to pay for it. But she said the second time he ate the meal and walked out without paying for it.
“When he wasn’t getting his way he proceeded to load the shotgun and point it at them,” Shields said. Shields argued against a minimum sentence suggesting it was not a typical robbery because Newman put both civilians’ lives in danger along with several police officers during his capture at a traffic stop.
Shields also said Newman had a five to 10 minute standoff with police during an attempted traffic stop shortly after the robbery. She said police captured him during “tussle” while he held the loaded shotgun. She said police testified during the trial of how they almost shot Newman because of the “high risk” traffic stop.