NORRISTOWN - A former Lower Pottsgrove man already serving jail time for vehicular homicide and burglary saw his state prison term lengthened Thursday for his role in a five-county armed robbery spree.
Travis Drumheller, 20, formerly of the 2000 block of North Charlotte Street, showed no emotion as Montgomery County Judge William R. Carpenter sentenced him to 17 to 40 years in state prison for his role in eight armed robberies that took place between Sept. 15 and Oct. 22, 2002, in five eastern and western Pennsylvania counties.
"He has broken the law before," Carpenter said, referring to a pre-sentence report that showed Drumheller's criminal behavior dates back to when he was a juvenile. "The present set of crimes included some incredibly horrible activity."
The judge told Drumheller that the robberies at pizza shops, fast food restaurants, a video store, a beauty supply shop and a dance club in Montgomery, Chester, Erie, Somerset and Butler counties tore at the fabric of society.
Drumheller's lawyer, Barry Miller, had sought leniency for Drumheller, arguing Drumheller cooperated with authorities after his arrest and never possessed any of the weapons used in the robberies.
"There is no justification for what he did. But he's a follower. He is not a leader," Miller said, implying Drumheller simply followed the ringleader of the gang, Michael McGrory. "He's aware he's going to receive a substantial sentence, and he's placed himself at the mercy of the court."
However, Assistant District Attorney Thomas McGoldrick argued for a sentence between 20 and 40 years in state prison.
"The nature of these crimes was very significant. These were brutal crimes. They were violent crimes," McGoldrick said, explaining that many of the robbery victims were terrorized at gunpoint.
Drumheller apologized before learning his punishment.
"I'm sorry for any suffering that I may have caused," Drumheller said.
Drumheller was on bail awaiting trial on vehicular homicide charges in connection with a March 2002 crash on Route 100 that killed two people when he took part in the armed robberies with his onetime friends, McGrory, Joshua Sheeler and Ian Taylor.
McGrory, 30, Sheeler, 22, and Taylor, 23, are also serving state prison terms for the robberies.
In February 2003, Drumheller pleaded guilty in Montgomery County Court to two counts of homicide by vehicle, four counts of recklessly endangering other people and one count of racing on a highway in connection with the March 4, 2002, four-vehicle crash that killed Jason W. Freed, 19, of Perkiomenville, and Adrianne R. Stock, 18, of Bechtelsville.
Four others, Stephanie Ochar of Bechtelsville and three members of the William Neely family were injured in the afternoon crash in Upper Pottsgrove.
Last June, Judge Kent H. Albright sentenced Drumheller to 3 1/2 to seven years in state prison, to be followed by four years' probation, in connection with the crash.
Prosecutors said Drumheller, who was driving a red 1990 Ford Mustang, was racing with Bradley R. Heller, 19, of Perkiomenville, south along the highway at the time of the 3:30 p.m. accident.
Heller was the driver of a white 1984 Mercury Capri that crossed the Route 100 median at Moyer Road during the race and struck Ochar's northbound car as well as two other vehicles. Freed and Stock were passengers in Heller's car. Heller was sentenced to six to 23 months in county jail, to be followed by six years' probation.
Even though Drumheller's Mustang never made contact with the other vehicles involved in the crash, he was culpable for the deaths under accomplice liability theories, prosecutors argued. Earlier this month, Drumheller was sentenced to six to 23 months in Chester County Court for an August 2001 burglary in North Coventry.