The man whose robbery spree became the rallying cry for increased sentencing for first-time robbery convicts is headed back to prison — this time for longer.
David D. Springer, 19, pleaded guilty as charged in court Thursday morning to two counts of attempted aggravated robbery and three counts of aggravated robbery.
Before Criminal Court Judge Seth Norman, Springer accepted a plea agreement for which he received 12 years at 100 percent for the three aggravated robberies as well as four years on the attempted aggravated robberies at 30 percent, to be served at the same time.
Springer received 100 percent time served on the three robberies because he was on parole for an aggravated robbery conviction in April 2007. He’ll also have to finish off the remaining time of his previous sentence for that conviction.
In the fall of 2009, Springer became the poster child of a push in the state legislature to increase prison sentences for first-time armed robbery convicts, requiring they serve at least 74 percent of their sentence as opposed to the old minimum of 30 percent. The law took effect July 1, 2010.
That push got underway after Springer committed a string of five more armed robberies (including attempts) between Sept. 20-21, 2009.
Tom Truitt ended up as Springer’s last victim in that spree.
Early on a Monday evening, Truitt paced a sidewalk outside of his home discussing a business deal on his cell phone’s Bluetooth earpiece while his daughter played on the swing set 100 feet or so away.
Truitt looked up to find a stranger pointing a gun at him, he quickly looked away feeling as if he’d seen “an apparition or a ghost or something,” he said.
Springer got Truitt’s attention by racking the gun and demanding to Truitt, “Give me your f---ing wallet.”
With his hands in the air, Truitt turned his attention from the phone conversation to answer Springer’s demands, as the person on the other end of the line listened in and grew more and more concerned.
Springer told Truitt to get down on his knees and lie facedown, spread-eagle on the ground. He then took Truitt’s cell phone, removing and tossing the battery, before making off with Truitt’s wallet.
Following the robbery and a few days of dealing with the police, Truitt learned Springer was a familiar face to the justice system — the cops knew him well. In fact, Springer had been paroled a few months earlier after serving about two and a half years of an eight-year sentence for another aggravated robbery conviction that he’d committed when he was 14, serving only the minimum sentence requirement of 30 percent time served.
“That’s when I got angry,” Truitt said. “What I did that night is what started the wheels turning.”
Truitt emailed several dozen state legislators, attaching a news story about the robberies and stating he was one of the victims. That led to a meeting with Truitt’s own state representative, Rep. Gary Odom, which didn’t seem to go far until Truitt pushed harder.
Truitt said he asked the representative, “What’s it going to take, your daughter getting raped or held up at gun point … before you guys are going to take action?”
Later, a bipartisan effort along with pressure from state chiefs of police and district attorneys general aided the passage of the increased sentences from 30 percent to more than 70 percent of a sentence.
But it was the fact the Springer had been out on parole when he committed even more robberies in 2009 that led to him getting more time.
“Here’s the other thing about [Thursday’s sentence]: Before he begins serving that 12-year sentence, he has to serve the balance of his previous sentence,” Truitt said, “and then the meter starts turning on today’s sentence.”