A Stephens County jury finds a Toccoa man guilty on all counts in a 2012 armed robbery.
The jury delivered the guilty verdict after deliberating for less than 20 minutes Wednesday in the trial of Rufaro Christopher Smith of Toccoa in Stephens County Superior Court.
Following the verdict, Mountain Judicial Circuit Superior Court Judge Chan Caudell sentenced Smith to life in prison for the armed robbery charge.
Smith also received a 20-year sentence to be served consecutively on the associated charge of aggravated assault and a 5-year sentence to be served concurrently on the third charge, possession of a knife during the commission of a felony.
Smith was convicted of robbing Buddy’s Quick Stop at the corner of Big A Road and Currahee Street during the early morning hours of September 4, 2012. During the robbery, Smith pulled a knife and injured the clerk’s hand as the two men struggled in the store.
Smith was arrested after the store clerk flagged down a passing Toccoa Police officer, who chased Smith down as he fled the store.
During opening statements Tuesday morning, Mountain Judicial Circuit Assistant District Attorney Rick Bridgeman told the jury the case was “not a who-dun-it,” adding that the evidence was overwhelming.
According to Bridgeman, that evidence included Smith’s DNA on the handle of the knife and the victim’s DNA on the knife blade from where the store clerk was cut.
In addition, store surveillance cameras captured the incident and authorities recovered the knife and air pistol carried by Smith during the incident.
However, Defense Attorney John Land had told the jury during opening statements to examine all of the evidence carefully.
Land said that the while the evidence may be appear to be one thing, things are not always as they first appear, something he said he believed would be the case in this trial.
Land also told the jury that DNA evidence is not infallible and is not always fool-proof.