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Teenager convicted of A&R Store robbery and shootout with police fined $5,000

Posted: Friday, October 6, 2023. 8:27 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: He was seventeen when, along with a then-fellow teenager, he held up the A&R Shopping Center on the Philip Goldson Highway and engaged in a shootout with police.

Now-23-year-old Keon Alexander Budnah was convicted in September and today he was sentenced not to imprisonment but a total of $5,000 in fines and cost of court.

Also charged was 19-year-old Haldwin Castillo, but he fled during the trial and has not been seen since.

Budnah, represented by Norman Rodriguez, was fined $4,000 on a conviction of aggravated burglary and two fines of $5000 for aggravated assault of a security guard for A&R and a police officer. He must pay by the end of January 2024, in default four years and ten months imprisonment.

Afterward, Rodriguez told our court reporter that the decision was “a display of justice being served and the mercy of the court in exercising its discretion to fine when it could have confined.” He noted that the court was minded to impose a prison sentence but was “moved” by the testimony of Budnah’s character witnesses and his own show of remorse.

Those witnesses were his uncle, a teacher; his sister, also a teacher who taught him at St Ignatius R.C. School; and his mother, who tearfully begged the court for leniency and to allow him to continue providing for his as yet unborn child and the rest of his family. Budnah is now gainfully employed and has managed to stay out of trouble since his arrest.

Budnah himself aspires to be a teacher and has been able to hold two jobs, one as a barber, the other working at Wesley College.

Attorney Rodriguez asked the court to consider Budnah ‘s very young and tender age, being only a minor at the age of 17 being influenced at the time by an adult – an adult who has since absconded and who faced trial ex parte.

The entire incident was captured on surveillance cameras and started at 11:27 in the morning when the accused robbers arrived. Castillo went to the manager’s office and held her at gunpoint while Budnah held up the security guard.

Police officers who happened to be outside making a purchase were alerted and quickly responded, but the robbers tried to evade them and then began a shootout which lasted about four minutes before the robbers gave in. They were detained and the building cleared by 1:30 in the afternoon.


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