A man who robbed Greenwood attorney Hiram Eastland Jr. at gunpoint two years ago has been sentenced to 20 years in prison.
Circuit Judge Margaret Carey-McCray handed down the sentence Monday for Jordan Johnson after mulling for the past year his punishment.
As a habitual offender facing eight counts for an assortment of crimes both in and out of incarceration, Johnson could have drawn a life sentence.
Eastland said he was satisfied, though, with the judge’s decision.
“He’s got a second chance, if he’ll take it,” Eastland said Tuesday.
Johnson, 23, pleaded guilty a year ago to a four-count indictment for the January 2018 holdup of Eastland at the attorney’s Cotton Street office.
Johnson drew sentences ranging from five to 20 years for armed robbery, commercial burglary, possession of a stolen firearm and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. All four sentences will run concurrently.
On the night of the robbery, Johnson shot his way into Eastland’s office, chased the attorney down the hallway and to his car and demanded money.
“I am going to kill you, if you don’t give me money,” Eastland recounted Johnson saying to him, according to a written statement he provided to Carey-McCray.
Johnson then ran off but was later apprehended by Greenwood police officers in a dumpster by nearby Davis Elementary. Next to Johnson in the dumpster officers found a .40-caliber handgun and a wallet with $3,047.
During his sentencing Monday, Johnson also pleaded guilty to a second, unrelated armed robbery, which occurred the month before robbing Eastland, as well as to three counts for possessing cellphones and a cellphone charger while behind bars.
For the second armed robbery, Johnson was given a 20-year sentence, with the final five years to be served on probation.
For each of the possession of contraband charges, Johnson was given 15 years.
All of these sentences will also run concurrently with those he received for robbing Eastland.
The attorney said he had planned to attend Monday’s sentencing to address the court and Johnson but could not due to a family emergency. Instead, Eastland submitted his written statement, detailing how he feared he would be killed during the robbery and how the nightmarish episode kept replaying in his head.
Eastland noted the irony of the situation.
As a lawyer, he represents defendants who have made mistakes and tries to help them “get their lives back on track,” he wrote.
In a message directed at Johnson, Eastland wrote that many times he has seen people who have been sent to prison for serious crimes be able to reform.
He cited the example of Paul Murrell Stewart, who, as a Pillow Academy High School student, was originally sentenced to life in prison for his role in a double homicide in 1995.
After spending 24 years behind bars, Stewart was released in January. His lawyer was a former schoolmate of Stewart’s and Eastland’s son, Hiram Eastland III.
While in prison, Stewart turned his life around by acquiring a GED diploma, then an associate’s degree and bachelor’s degree in Christian ministry, Eastland said. Stewart also mentored other prisoners.
He told Johnson that “you can avoid throwing your whole life away and it’s up to you and God to get back on the right track.”
•Contact Gerard Edic at 581-7239 or email@example.com.