BUCKHANNON – A New Jersey man was sentenced to 36 years in prison Wednesday in Upshur County Circuit Court on a first-degree robbery charge connected to the kidnapping and attempted robbery of an Upshur County man in February 2018 at the Colonial Motel.
Twenty-sixth Judicial Circuit Court Judge Jacob Reger sentenced Lamere Troup, 26, to a determinate term of 36 years in the state penitentiary on one count of first-degree robbery, a felony. Reger also sentenced Troup to an indeterminate prison term of two to 10 years on one count of malicious assault, a felony; Reger said the sentences would run consecutively.
Troup has been incarcerated at the Tygart Valley Regional Jail since Feb. 22, 2018 for his role in the attempted kidnapping and robbery of Frank Hall. He was indicted in January 2019 on one count of conspiracy, a felony; one count of kidnapping, a felony; one count of first-degree robbery, a felony; and one count of malicious assault, a felony.
At a July 1, 2019 hearing, he pleaded guilty to first-degree robbery and malicious assault, and Upshur County Prosecuting Attorney David Godwin agreed to file a motion to dismiss the felony conspiracy charge and kidnapping charge, which carries a life sentence.
When Reger asked Troup’s attorney, Phil Davis, if he’d like to speak on Troup’s behalf, Davis said Troup had been honest in court and with law enforcement officers since the beginning of the case.
“When he laid the factual basis for his guilty plea, Mr. Troup was very forthright and honest and has taken responsibility for his responsibility in this incident,” Davis said. “When many defendants are asked to lay a factual basis for their plea, they tend to minimize their involvement and hedge and are not particularly forthright.”
Davis also argued Troup had been more honest about the events that took place Feb. 21, 2018, than any of his co-defendants. According to a previous story, Troup and three other individuals – Takiese Naceer Bethea, of Camden, N.J., Michaelina Sarne, of Sicklerville, N.J. and Sarne’s daughter, Alayna Puglia, of Philadelphia, Pa. – allegedly traveled to Buckhannon for the purpose of kidnapping Sarne’s brother, Frank Hall, and forcibly stealing money from him. When Hall said he didn’t have the money, he was beaten and stabbed numerous times.
According to a previous story, Sarne and her daughter, Puglia, allegedly rented a room in the Colonial Motel, and Bethea and Troup were also invited into the room. At a previous hearing, Godwin said Sarne invited her brother, Hall, over with the intention of stealing money from him.
Davis said Troup had demonstrated genuine regret for his involvement in the incident.
“In my viewing of him, I’ve come to know a young man who’s very remorseful about the activity and the role that he played in this,” Davis said. “I don’t believe prior to this he’d ever been to West Virginia. I think he believed he was coming to Virginia.”
Davis went on to say being incarcerated in Barbour County, West Virginia had been a culture shock for Troup, who lived in an urban area and is a black American.
“He went from living in Camden, New Jersey to residing in a jail in Belington, West Virginia, and it has been quite a shock to him because of his outsider status and his minority status,” he continued. “He’ll miss the entirety of his late 20s, and he has a couple children, and when this man gets out, they’ll be grown. He’s penitent and sorrowful for the role he played in this, and he’s going to miss some of the best prime years of his life.”
Troup rose and apologized for his actions.
“I would like to apologize to Frank Hall and the state of West Virginia,” Troup told the judge. “I made a mistake – a grave one – and it’s not only costing me my future, but it’s [affecting] my kids’ future also. I shouldn’t have been involved in the first place.”
Troup said he’d had time to contemplate his actions in prison while sober.
“I know if I was sober, I wouldn’t have made this decision,” he said. “I apologize again to Frank Hall. He endured a lot. I apologize to this state for being disrespectful and doing things I shouldn’t have done.”
Godwin said he agreed not to make a recommendation regarding Troup’s sentence and would stand by that agreement.
Reger noted the kidnapping charge – which carries a life sentence – had been dismissed.
“I consider the nature of this case as serious of a case as we deal with, period,” he told Troup. “The kidnapping charge has a life sentence and that has been dismissed and you’ve pled guilty to first-degree robbery and malicious assault. We’ve got a guy (Frank Hall) who’s probably lucky he’s not dead. He was bound, he was stabbed, and he was beaten.”
“I will say this: you are probably the only one of the four individuals who’s been honest with us,” Reger continued, “but this is about as bad as it gets, and I can’t overlook what’s happened here to this individual – the trauma he’s been through, not just physically but emotionally.”
Reger said he also had to consider Troup’s prior criminal history, which reportedly included a burglary charge, a drug possession charge and a terroristic threats charge, according to the pre-sentence investigation.
“The fact that you absconded from probation [in New Jersey] to come down here is unacceptable,” Reger said.
Reger sentenced Troup to a determinate 36 years in the state penitentiary with credit for time served and handed down an indeterminate sentence of two to 10 years on the malicious assault charge. The sentences will run consecutively, or back-to-back, instead of concurrently, or in a parallel fashion.
West Virginia Code says the penalty for first-degree robbery is confinement in the state penitentiary for a term of not less than 10 years. Following the hearing, probation officer Jason Kelley said a 36-year determinate sentence means Troup will be eligible for parole after serving a quarter of his sentence, or nine years.