HOUSTON – A 43-year-old local man has been sentenced to nearly 42 years for the robberies of multiple phone and others stores during Christmas week in 2017, announced U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick.
A Houston federal jury deliberated for two hours before returning guilty verdicts against Robert Charles Wooten following a two-day trial. He was convicted of five counts of interference with commerce by robbery and five related charges of using, carrying or brandishing a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence.
Today, U.S. District Lynn H. Hughes handed Wooten a combined 80-month sentence for the robberies. He also received an additional 420 months for the firearms charges which must be served consecutively to the other sentence imposed. At the hearing, the court noted that although his prior offenses were not violent in nature, Wooten is a menace to society.
“This investigation shows the impact that law enforcement has against violent criminals who use firearms,” said Special Agent in Charge Fred Milanowski of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).
Wooten was convicted of the armed robbery of the Walgreens on Little York on Christmas Day in 2017. Over the course of the next five days, he also committed the robberies of three Metro PCS stores, Bayou Pawn on Shepherd and Family Dollar on Tidwell, all located near his residence.
At trial, the jury heard Wooten has numerous tattoos on his face, but would enter the commercial businesses wearing make-up, cream or bandages to aid in covering them. He would then show a gun to the employees and demand money.
Testimony revealed that during the Dec. 25 Walgreens robbery, he waited in line before approaching the victim. He then showed a firearm and demanded the cashier place money and cigarettes into a duffle bag he had brought with him into the store.
He then committed similar robberies of the Metro PCS on North Shepherd and W. Little York, Dec. 27 and 28, respectively, during which time employees were frightened and complied with his demands.
Then, on Dec. 29, Wooten entered the Bayou Pawn – a shop where he would frequently conduct business. Upon his arrival, he initially acted as though he wanted to sell a bicycle. Once the employee was near him, Wooten pushed a firearm into her side and demanded money. The employee was afraid.
The manager of the store testified that he had been watching from the back. He saw Wooten put his hands on the employee and came out to confront him, not knowing Wooten was actually trying to rob the store. Wooten acted as if nothing was wrong and asked the manager to come outside and look at the bicycle. The victim then called the police.
The same day, Wooten asked his son to drive him to a separate Metro PCS. He did so and went door to Family Dollar. Soon after, Wooten stuck his head inside the store and told his son they needed to leave immediately. Wooten’s son got in the car, but noticed people taking photos of him, his dad and his vehicle. He asked Wooten about it, but he just ordered his son to drive.
The son later learned his dad had robbed the Metro PCS and alerted authorities.
Authorities identified Wooten based on the make-up and similar items he used in the robberies. Several victims also testified and identified him as the one who terrorized them during the robberies.
The defense attempted to convince the jury that the witnesses had misidentified Wooten. They did not believe those claims and found him guilty as charged.
Wooten has been and will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.
ATF and Houston Police Department conducted the investigation.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jill Stotts and Erin Epley are prosecuting the case.