Man gets life for murder of a jeweler

A suburban Chicago man was sentenced to 95 years in prison Wednesday for the murder of a jewelry-store owner during an armed robbery three years ago.

Ronald Lee Battle, 24, of Calumet City, Ill., was sentenced by a Cook County Circuit for the May 2003 murder of James Johns, 56, of Tinley Park, the Chicago Tribune reports. His sentence requires him to serve a minimum of 92 years.

Johns, owner of the Gold and Diamond Connection in Calumet City, was shot in the head by a robber who forced his way into the store as it opened, the newspaper reports. The robber fled with jewelry but not without a witness seeing what happened, prosecutors reportedly said. Battle was charged with first-degree murder and armed robbery a few days later.

Friends and family of Johns told the judge that Battle deserved the maximum sentence because of the heartless manner in which Johns was murdered, the newspaper reports.

Prosecutors reportedly said Johns was beaten over the head, then shot in the head from a distance of two feet.

Battle had served time for other crimes, prosecutors reportedly said, including possession of a controlled substance and three counts of residential burglary.

Defense attorney Patrick McKeigue said he believed that Battle’s jury last month was not allowed to hear information that could have cleared him, the newspaper reports. He told the court that his client deserved a lighter sentence and that Battle was guilty of “panicking when Mr. Johns reached for his gun.”

Sandra Johns, the victim’s wife, reportedly said she was satisfied, as she embraced friends outside the courtroom.