Earlier this year — before robbing eight people at a hotel in January with a sawed-off shotgun — Jackson Julius was preparing to attend an art college in Baltimore. Or he wanted to be a U.S. Navy SEAL.
On Tuesday, a Montgomery County circuit judge sentenced Julius to five years in prison instead.
Julius, 19, of Bel Pre Road in Silver Spring, ambushed eight people at the Homewood Suites Hotel on Colesville Road in Silver Spring, according to charging documents. After the occupants of the room arrived, a masked man with a sawed-off shotgun forced his way into the room, stealing four iPhones, purses, cash, and a tablet computer.
Police tracked him, via the iPhones he stole, to the intersection of Veirs Mill Road and University Boulevard. They found him, along with a duffel bag containing the shotgun and the stolen items, on a Ride On Bus.
He was charged with 14 counts of robbery, use of a firearm in the commission of a crime, and other related charges.
He pleaded guilty to two counts of armed robbery and one count of use of a firearm in the commission of a crime.
Julius immigrated to the U.S. in 1999 from Liberia and became a citizen in 2011, according to public defender Adam Harris.
Harris told Montgomery County Circuit Judge Ann Harrington that Julius struggled with drug addictions and once was hospitalized for an episode of binge drinking.
“It’s all true,” Julius said at his sentencing. “I have a serious addiction to alcohol. ... I used it as liquid courage to do this.”
He added that he had been “desperate for materialistic things.”
“I need a second chance,” he said, adding that a harsh sentence would make it impossible for him to get a job.
Assistant State’s Attorney Margaret Schweitzer said Julius had made “not one choice, but many, that has gotten him here.”
“I think you’ve expressed insight and a desire to accept responsibility,” Harrington told Julius during the sentencing.
She placed him on five years’ probation after his release from prison and forbade the use of alcohol and drugs as a way to encourage him to stay out of trouble when he gets released.
“No one wants to see this as a life thrown away,” she said.