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Man pleads guilty to Mall in Columbia robbery

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A Washington man pleaded guilty Wednesday in connection with the attempted robbery of $1,817 worth of watches from the Mall in Columbia during which the man allegedly pulled a stun gun on a security guard, according to State's attorney spokesman Wayne Kirwan. 

Michael Penny, also known as Jimmie James Williams, pleaded guilty to robbery in front of Howard County Circuit Court Judge Timothy J. McCrone.

The four other charges Penny was indicted on, which included second-degree assault and armed robbery, were dropped as a result of the plea, Kirwan said. 

According to a narrative presented by the State's attorney's office, Howard County Police officers responded to Lord & Taylor at the Mall in Columbia around 7:24 p.m. on Nov. 26 to a report of a shoplifter. The responding officer identified Penny, 56, as a suspect based on a report from a mall loss prevention officer, police said, and took him into custody.

The loss prevention officer stated that he observed the defendant on closed-circuit television take several watches from a display case and begin to exit the store without paying, according to the narrative.

As the loss prevention officer attempted to stop Penny, he pulled out a stun gun and sparked it multiple times, according to the narrative.

A struggle ensued, resulting in the stun gun being knocked to the ground along with a number of watches, the narrative states. The loss prevention officer claims he was bitten by Penny as he attempted to get away, according to the narrative. 

Police said a search of the defendant revealed a watch in his left pocket with a security cable attached, which led to his arrest.

Judge McCrone set a sentencing date of Aug. 28, at which the prosecution will ask for a 10-year prison sentence, Kirwan said. 

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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