Public Safety

18-year-old sentenced to 15 years for robbing student in Kennedy High School parking lot, at gunpoint, of her cellphone

/

CEDAR RAPIDS — An 18-year-old Cedar Rapids woman told a judge Thursday that she struggles with nightmares and has difficulty sleeping after being robbed by gunpoint of her cellphone in the parking lot of Kennedy High School.

Lauren Stangl, during a plea and sentencing hearing for Jovon T. Ellis Jr, 18, said in a victim impact statement that she doesn’t want this to happen to anyone else. She also said she was trying to move forward and hoped Ellis gets the help he needs.

Ellis, of Cedar Rapids, pleaded in Linn County District Court to amended charges of first-degree theft and going armed with intent.

During the hearing, he admitted to taking a cellphone from the woman and to having a gun with the intent to use the gun against her on Jan. 27 in the south parking lot of Kennedy High School, 4545 Wenig Rd. NE.

According to a criminal complaint, Stangl told police she was at her car just after 3:30 p.m., when a man confronted her, pushed her into the vehicle, pressed a handgun into her side and demanded her cellphone. He then ran from the scene.

Police said they used school security footage to identify Ellis.

Using the “lost phone feature” on the victim’s phone, police said they were able to trace the device to the 4400 block of White Pine Drive NE — the block where Ellis lives.

Ellis was found at his residence, police said, and admitted to the crime.

Investigators also obtained a search and found Stangl’s phone and a Daisy CO2 pistol, according to the criminal complaint.

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

Ellis was also sentenced Thursday on an extortion charge. He stole the cellphone while on pretrial release for the extortion incident.

In that case, Ellis met up with three people at Delaney Park in southwest Cedar Rapids to smoke marijuana and instead, pointed a gun at them and took their cellphones and $200 from a purse.

Ellis, during the sentencing, apologized to Stangl and her family. He said he had stopped taking his medication and had let down his two younger sisters.

“I hope she (Stangl) can forgive me someday,” he said.

First Assistant Linn County Attorney Nick Maybanks asked 6th Judicial District Judge Fae Hoover to follow the plea agreement in the theft and gun case and run the two sentences consecutively for 15 years in prison.

He also asked that she run the five-year sentence in the extortion case consecutively to the 15 years for a total of 20 years in prison.

Maybanks said he was concerned about Ellis’ violent behavior — using a gun “to get what he wanted.” Ellis was on release when he “victimized” the high school student, he noted.

Lindsey Garner, Ellis’ lawyer, asked the judge to run the five years for extortion concurrently to the other sentences for a total of 15 years. She pointed out that Ellis has “struggled with depression and hopelessness all his life.” He has attempted suicide twice and his home life has been dysfunctional.

Garner noted his parents were not on the call for the hearing and hadn’t checked on him.

Hoover agreed with Garner and ran the five -ear sentence concurrently to the other for a total of 15 years.

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

In making this decision, she said she considered his age and brain development, lack of stability in his home and his mental health issues.

She also ordered five-year no contact orders for the victims in both cases.

Comments: (319) 398-8318; trish.mehaffey@thegazette.com

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.