Lowcountry man sentenced to 15 years for robbery - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Lowcountry man sentenced for robbery

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Rion Beaty, 24, was sentenced to 15 years in prison to charges of armed robbery, kidnapping and possession of a weapon during commission of a violent crime. (Source: Fourteenth Circuit Solicitor's Office) Rion Beaty, 24, was sentenced to 15 years in prison to charges of armed robbery, kidnapping and possession of a weapon during commission of a violent crime. (Source: Fourteenth Circuit Solicitor's Office)
HILTON HEAD ISLAND, SC (WTOC) -

A Hilton Head Island man pleaded guilty Monday to a robbery of the South Beach General Store on Labor Day weekend.

Rion Beaty, 24, was sentenced to 15 years in prison to charges of armed robbery, kidnapping and possession of a weapon during commission of a violent crime. His trial was scheduled to begin this week.

On Sept. 2, 2012, Beaty walked into the store at 232 South Sea Pines Dr., and asked an employee if they had more merchandise in the back storage room. The employee, who became suspicious, said they did not. Beaty, who was wearing a blue bandana around his neck, then left the store.

A few minutes later, Beaty came back wearing latex gloves and the blue bandana over his face. He went into the back room, pointed a pistol at the employee and demanded money.

The manager gave him $4,000 in cash from the safe. Beaty said he wanted more money and pushed the manager into the corner of the room, where he threatened to kill him. He was told there was no more money left in the store and left.

The hostess of a nearby restaurant where Beaty had recently worked recognized him as he left the scene and saw that he was carrying a pistol, according to the Fourteenth Circuit Solicitor's Office.  

Police found the bandana at the South Beach Marina parking lot. A DNA analysis found forensic matter from four different individuals on it and could not exclude Beaty as a contributor, according to the Fourteenth Circuit Solicitor's Office. Two store employees picked Beaty out of a photo lineup.

"This was a brazen act of violence committed in front of several children and families at a tourist destination on one of the most crowded weekends on Hilton Head Island," said assistant solicitor Ben Shelton, a member of the Career Criminal Prosecution Unit, in a statement. "I am thankful that the victim responded as calmly as he did, which resulted in nobody being injured. The cooperation we received from witnesses and the thorough investigation by the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office were crucial factors in getting one of the island's most dangerous criminals off the streets before he was able to strike again."

Beaty has prior convictions for assault and battery, disturbing schools, carrying a weapon onto school property, discharging a firearm, possession of a controlled substance and underage possession of alcohol, according to the Fourteenth Circuit Solicitor's Office.

Beaty must serve at least 85 percent of his sentence before becoming eligible for parole as required by South Carolina law. 

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