Dowagiac man gets prison time for Cassopolis gas station robbery

Published 12:52 pm Friday, April 5, 2024

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CASSOPOLIS — The man who robbed a Cassopolis gas station last year and ended up shot by a bystander was sentenced to prison Friday in Cass County Circuit Court.

Cordeleus Anthony Martin, 36, of Cleveland Avenue in Dowagiac, pleaded guilty to assault with intent to rob while armed and was sentenced to seven to 40 years in prison with credit for 233 days served. He must pay $1,048 in fines and costs. He also has pending charges in Berrien County.

The incident occurred July 27, 2023 at the Stone Lake Marathon on South Broadway in Cassopolis. Martin entered the gas station armed with a box cutter and wearing a mask. He approached the clerk with the intention of robbing him when he was shot by a private citizen inside the station. Martin was taken to the hospital and later charged in the incident.

Cass County Prosecutor Victor Fitz and defense attorney Greg Feldman said the seven year minimum prison sentence was the result of a plea agreement. They and Cass County Circuit Judge Mark Herman noted that the seven year sentence was less than the 10 year minimum sentence recommended in the sentencing guidelines.

The private citizen who shot Martin during the incident was not charged. Fitz noted in a press release last year that the man’s actions were lawful under Michigan law relative to the defense of self and others doctrine.

“Sometimes when you play with fire you get burned,” Fitz said Friday. “In this county, state and country, citizens have the responsibility to obey the law and citizens have the responsibility to use deadly force to repel deadly force.”

“The facts here were pretty terrifying,” he added. “The citizen saw a life threatening scenario unfold right in front of him. He reacted with common sense to what was going on. In this situation, the citizen was heroic and the clerk said he saved his life.”

Feldman noted that family members and friends wrote letters of support for Martin and that Martin had had a troubled childhood.

“The clerk said his life was changed forever but the defendant’s life was changed as well,” he said. “He was shot numerous times and the clerk and person who shot him weren’t attacked or cut.”

“I’m not a bad person, but I made a very bad decision,” Martin said. “I take full responsibility for what happened but I never intended to hurt anybody. I stand here embarrassed and ashamed about what happened.”

Judge Herman said it was hard for him to look at Martin’s past record of 15 prior convictions and agree with family members’ comments that he was a good father.

“You may have good qualities but when I look at the things you’ve done, you are not a good role model for your children to see,” he said.

“You can’t just tell your kids to be good, you have to show by example,” he added. “Your kids and family love you and that shows me you have a lot of good qualities and you know the difference between right and wrong … The sooner you learn that fellow citizens are your brothers and sisters, the sooner you won’t have to stand before the court.”