ROCKVILLE, Md. -- 18-year-old Marcus Addison of Montgomery Village faces 25 years in prison on Friday when he is sentenced for the five counts of armed robbery he pleaded guilty to on Feb. 1.
It could be an uncharacteristically harsh sentence coming from a county that let five high school seniors guilty of a similar crime in 2006 each serve less than a month in jail and several months of home detention while attending public high schools.
County police arrested Addison, a senior and former defensive starter on the varsity football team at Watkins Mill High School, on Aug.20 in connection with robberies of pizza delivery employees in the Gaithersburg area.
Plainclothes officers had been watching Addison’s home for at least a week before the arrest, said county police. At 11 p.m. on Aug. 20, the Domino’s Pizza in Flower Hill received an online order to Smoothstone Way in Montgomery Village. The phone number left by the customer was disconnected, and police canceled the order. The customer was notified of the cancelation via a mobile application, and placed another order under the same name to a different address on Smoothstone Way. Officers say they observed Addison climb out of his bedroom window and begin walking to the delivery location until the second order was canceled, at which point he walked home. Police confronted Addison at his home and he fled on foot.
Police say officers were able to catch Addison in the Montgomery Village Center parking lot, and found a pellet gun they believed Addison had ditched while running. Addison’s mother, Tiffany Addison, was informed of her son’s arrest at 1:00 a.m. on Aug. 21, and told at 5:00 a.m. he was being processed at the station.
She later received a bill addressed to Marcus from Shady Grove Hospital for nasal and chest X-rays and treatment from a doctor on the night of his arrest. The bill stated that the patient was “unable to sign.”
Tiffany Addison says Marcus told her he received stitches that night treating bites from a police dog. Marcus’ sister, 23-year-old Rashawn Addison, said the first time she saw Marcus after the arrest, “he was unrecognizable. He’s black but he’s pretty light-skinned. His face was literally black.”
Tiffany filed a police brutality complaint with the county and was told an investigation could not be conducted until Marcus’ case had resolved.
Marcus was questioned after his arrest and police say he then confessed to six of the robberies. He was charged with six counts of armed robbery for those incidents and two counts of attempted armed robbery for the incidents on Aug. 20.
Addison isn’t the first county football player involved in an armed robbery. In 2006, five Walt Whitman High School seniors collaborated to rob a Bethesda Smoothie King. One of those seniors was Patrick Lazear, a varsity football star and prospective NCAA Division I player.
Lazear was sentenced to 10 years for the robbery and had all but eight months and 10 days suspended. He spent 10 days in jail before serving eight months of home detention while attending Wheaton High School, where he played football. Lazear went on to play football at West Virginia University.
The other boys involved received similar sentences. Four months of home detention for Alex Krouskas, the inside man on the Smoothie King job. Seven years with all but 11 months and 30 days suspended for Justin Schweiger, who served only 30 days in jail and the rest at home. Robert Warren, who had a criminal record prior to the robbery, had all but four months of his five-year sentence suspended, and also served only 30 days in jail. Tommy Ashley was tried as a juvenile.
All five of those boys were white. Marcus Addison isn’t.
Donna Fenton, the Montgomery County Assistant State’s Attorney who is prosecuting Addison on behalf of the state, said the plea agreement had no cap. Addison faces up to five years for each charge, and could serve 25 years if he receives the maximum sentence.
“An agreement was thoughtfully reached on both sides,” said Addison’s attorney, Luiz R.S. Simmons. “It was believed to be in the interest of the public and the interest of Marcus’ opportunities in life.”
Marcus Addison’s family doesn’t agree. “The decision is ultimately his now that he’s 18,” his sister Rashawn said. “He can still pull the plea back, but he’s afraid to do it. I talked to him about it and he’s afraid that there will be 12 white jurors who will all find him guilty. He thinks the plea is safer.”
Prosecutors waited to offer Addison a plea until after he turned 18 on Jan. 22. Judge Jordan determined Marcus would be tried as an adult after an extensive waiver hearing, during most of which Marcus was held at the Alfred D. Noyes Children’s Center in Rockville. He has since been transferred to the Montgomery County Correctional Facility in Clarksburg.
Ramon Korionoff, the spokesperson for the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office, said Addison was charged as an adult “due to the seriousness of his crimes. Treatment and counseling options are available in both adult and juvenile detention centers, but we want to make sure Marcus is held accountable regardless of whether the weapon he used was real or fake.”
“We have a situation where . . . the defense can ask for probation, but Judge Jordan has discretion in designating the punishment,” Korionoff said.
Marcus’ mother said that his biggest fear is letting down the family and disappointing them. “He’s always apologizing. He puts himself last,” she said.
Marcus’ sister Rashawn said, “All kids make mistakes. He was going places.” “He still is,” said Tiffany. “Why, out of everyone, would the county be so harsh on teenage boys like my son? It’s like they want to ruin their lives before they even get started.”
Rashawn said she’s worried about “the truth and his future. Our mother always said that college was not an option, it was non-negotiable. And now Marcus is gonna have such a hard time with college when there’s other kids right here [in Montgomery County] who did the same thing and were able to do everything they wanted.”