Paso man gets 24 years for crime spree

Nathaniel Johnson mug
Nathaniel Johnson mug 04-08-10

A Paso Robles man was sentenced Tuesday to 24 years and eight months in state prison for his conviction of robbery and burglary crimes committed in the North County in 2008.

Nathaniel Johnson Jr., 31, was found guilty by a jury Feb. 10 after a 10-day trial of separate robberies in Paso Robles and Atascadero, as well as a first-degree residential burglary in Atascadero, according to officials at the District Attorney’s Office.

During Tuesday’s sentencing, Judge Michael Duffy said that Johnson showed “no emotion” when two teenage victims testified and expressed their fear about Johnson’s robbery at knifepoint at the Baskin-Robbins in Paso Robles on Jan. 6, 2008.

Duffy sentenced Johnson based on several factors, including the three-strikes law, an “enhancement” penalty for the use of a knife during a robbery and Johnson’s prior record of a carjacking in 1998. Karen Gray was the prosecutor on the case.

Johnson declined comment when Duffy asked if he wanted to say anything during the sentencing.

Johnson’s attorney, Raymond Allen, said the sentence of 24 years is too strong given that nobody was physically hurt in any of the crimes.

Allen believes his client was unjustly punished by the three-strikes law that doubled his client’s sentence of nine years to 18 years in prison for the crimes he committed; an additional six years was added because of Johnson’s prior record.

“My take on the three strikes (law) is that it’s draconian, particularly given the over-incarceration of our prison system,” Allen said. “I’m not saying people shouldn’t go to prison, but 24 years seems inappropriate.”

In addition to the Baskin Robbins robbery, which was linked to Johnson using DNA evidence, he was convicted of burglarizing the home of his girlfriend on Oct. 22, 2008, and robbing a 64-year-old woman of her backpack as she walked home from work on Oct. 28, 2008, according to prosecutors.