A two-time felon who forcibly was removed from court because of outbursts during his trial was sentenced to 95 years in prison Thursday.
Leroy Lee Randle was not in the courtroom when jurors in 19th State District Court returned the 95-year term after two hours of deliberations. Judge Ralph Strother ordered Randle removed from court Wednesday afternoon after he repeatedly interrupted the proceedings, and he did not return to court to learn his punishment Thursday.
Randle was convicted of aggravated robbery as a habitual criminal in the November 2017 robbery of the Shop N Save convenience store on Elm Avenue in which he threatened to kill the clerk with a pistol in his waistband.
Randle, 45, has previous convictions for delivery of cocaine and possession of cocaine and must serve at least 30 years in prison before he can seek parole.
Randle was a persistent problem for Strother and courtroom deputies before and after his trial, insisting at one point that he represent himself, constantly complaining about the criminal justice system and refusing to dress in anything other than black-and-white striped jail garb, even during jury selection and his trial.
After repeated admonishments to Randle to refrain from courtroom outbursts, Strother finally ordered deputies to remove Randle from court Wednesday. Six deputies struggled with Randle, and once they got into a courthouse hallway leading to a holding cell, Randle flopped on the floor and refused to walk.
The deputies carried Randle to the holding cell before returning him to the county jail.
Strother decided to sentence Randle via the county’s teleconferencing system, with the judge, prosecutors Amanda Smith and Christi Hunting Horse and Randle’s attorney, Sandy Gately, speaking from a monitor at the courthouse while Randle was at the jail.
During the sentencing, Randle continued to rail against what he called the unjust criminal justice system. When Strother asked if there were any legal reason why he should not be sentenced, Randle replied, “Is there any legal reason why all of you shouldn’t be sentenced?”
“I’m happy with the outcome and believe the jurors made a fair decision that will make Waco that much safer,” Smith said after the three-day trial. “This was one of the most disturbed and least remorseful defendants I’ve ever prosecuted. He has no afterthought for the effects his acts of terrorism have on other people.”
The store clerk and a witness to the robbery testified that Randle took beer, water, chips and cigarettes from the store, lifted his shirt to show his pistol and told the clerk, “If you tell anybody, I’ll blow your brains out.”
The witness, a man who drinks coffee at the store in the mornings, said he saw the gun and heard Randle threaten the clerk.
Randle testified Tuesday that he stole a few items and put them in his car. He said he returned for more items and the clerk asked him what he was doing, saying he knew he had to pay for the merchandise.
Randle said he told the clerk to call police because he had no money. He admitted to the thefts but denied that he ever displayed a weapon during the incident.
During punishment testimony, Smith and Hunting Horse presented evidence to show Randle was involved in an incident in 2006 in which three people were shot outside an East Waco night spot. Randle and three others were arrested in the assaults. However, they were never prosecuted.
Three days after the 2017 robbery, Randle was arrested for smashing the windows out of a car on Clay Avenue and walking up and down the street threatening residents with a gun, according to trial testimony.
Gately complimented the efforts of the jury.
“The jury had a very difficult job and they took it seriously and did what they thought was right, and we appreciate their hard work,” Gately said.