The Duncan Banner

December 12, 2012

Home invasion trio get combined sentence of 135 years

Victims take stand, describe their horror

Greg Crews
The Duncan Banner

DUNCAN — Terry and Sheila Crissman said they don’t smile or laugh nearly as often since being held at gunpoint, and then bound in duct tape, while their Marlow home was robbed on April 23. But the two wore smiles of relief as they walked out of a Stephens County District courtroom Tuesday after their three attackers were sentenced to more than 30 years apiece.

Douglas Darius Brown, 18, was sentenced to 35 years, of which he will have to serve at least 85 percent before he will be eligible for probation.

Leon Edwards, 31, who allegedly brandished a pistol during the robbery, was sentenced to 40 years.

Christopher Scruggs, 25, who had two prior felony convictions in California, was sentenced to 60 years.

“This is the kind of case, that if anyone wants to come into Stephens County and pull this kind of stuff, they can see the consequences,” District Attorney Jason Hicks said. Hicks oversees District 6.

The three men, all from Lawton, pleaded guilty in October to charges of conjoint robbery, burglary in the first degree and conspiracy.

At Tuesday’s sentencing, the three defendants had an opportunity to have friends and family speak to their character. Brown’s preacher at Friendship Baptist Church in Lawton, where Brown was a leader in the youth group, asked the court for leniency, as did his father, one of his high school teachers and a manager at Burger King in Fort Sill, where Brown worked.

Scruggs, who served in the Navy, fought back tears as his mother took the stand and asked for a fair punishment. Edwards, who also has military experience and served a tour of duty in Iraq, did not have a character witness.

After the character witnesses were finished, Hicks called Sheila Crissman to the stand, where she gave a detailed account of the events of April 23.

Shortly after friends had left, she said, there was a knock at the door.

“I heard a knock at the door and I thought Amy had forgotten her purse. Terry went to the door and I stayed and looked for her purse (in the kitchen),” Sheila Crissman testified. “I heard a boom, like the door being busted open, then I heard, ‘OK, OK.’”

She said she came into the room, where she saw, “a big black man with a gun on Terry’s head. He had a hand on his head and he was telling him (Terry) to get on the floor. I just froze.”

Sheila Crissman said she was then ordered to lay down with her stomach on the floor. Eventually, the two had their hands and feet bound behind their backs with duct tape, which was also placed over their eyes, she testified.

After the robbers found ammunition, they asked Terry Crissman where the guns were. Sheila said she instructed them where to find two hand guns.

Later, the robbers discovered a gun safe and retrieved the key from Terry Crissman. When they opened the safe to find guns and other valuables, Sheila said their attackers celebrated.

“That’s when I knew there were three of them,” Sheila Crissman said, remembering hearing two celebrating while another was in the bedroom.

“Terry told me it’s gonna be OK,” she recalled. “He said, ‘I’m sorry you have to go through this.”

Sheila Crissman said she and her husband expected to die and made sure to tell each other ‘I love you,’ one last time.

Eventually, though, the burglars thought they had triggered an alarm and fled.

“One said, ‘Let’s get out of here. I think I tripped something.”

In all, the burglars made off with $33,000 of the Crissman’s possessions, said Terry Crissman, who had to come up with a list of items and their values.

“Some were recovered. Most were not,” he testified.

Both Crissmans spoke of recurring nightmares and changes to their lifestyle and personalities due to the ordeal and they asked for the maximum sentence for all three defendant: 80 years.

During the robbery, Edwards tapped a pistol against the back of Terry Crissman’s head and told him, “You’d better get a memory,” when Crissman didn’t immediately give up the location of his firearms. During his victim statement, Crissman finally had his chance to respond. At the end of his statement, he looked directly at Edwards and said, “You’d better get a memory, because your memory of freedom is gone.”

Scruggs and Edwards both apologized to the Crissmans.

“I did what I did and I deserve punishment,” said Scruggs, who is a husband and father of an infant child.

Judge Joseph H. Enos issued a brief recess before handing down the sentences.

“This is not an easy case,” he said. “I’ve tried to reflect over my 30 years ... but this is probably the most serious case I have had to preside over with adult victims.”