Schenectady County

Still claiming innocence, Schenectady robber gets 20 years

The second of two men who admitted to taking part in a string of robberies last year was sentenced F

The second of two men who admitted to taking part in a string of robberies last year was sentenced Friday to 20 years in state prison.

But Anthony Caldwell, 22, also renewed his claims of innocence, his attorney Stephen Rockmacher said.

Caldwell had attempted to withdraw his guilty plea, but the attempt was rejected by Schenectady County Court Judge Karen Drago.

He pleaded guilty in April to one count of first-degree robbery.

In return for his plea, Caldwell agreed to take 20 years in state prison. He had been indicted on multiple robbery counts. Had he gone to trial and been convicted, he faced upwards of 40 years in state prison.

Caldwell formally filed his motion seeking to take back his plea in July, alleging his previous attorney was ineffective.

Requests to retract pleas, however, are rarely granted, as judges take pains during pleas to ensure that they are done properly. And Drago refused to grant his request.

Prosecutor Matthew Sypniewski noted at a July court appearance that Caldwell would have faced several other charges, had he gone to trial. Those charges would have been reinstated had he been allowed to take his plea back.

Caldwell was charged with the robberies along with codefendant Tysheem Thompson, 21, of Yates Village.

Thompson pleaded guilty earlier to the same charge and was sentenced in June to 20 years in state prison.

Thompson admitted to robbing the Hollywood Beauty Supply Plus on Crane Street in February 2009.

The beauty supply robbery was one of as many as 10 believed to have been committed by Thompson and Caldwell, Sypniewski has said.

One of the stores, the Getty Mart on Broadway, was hit twice.

After the first robbery, investigators recovered DNA from discarded clothing, which helped link the incidents, Sypniewski said.

The robbers were arrested after the second holdup. On March 25, 2009, just after 11:30 p.m., a man walked into the Getty Mart with a gun and demanded cash.

The clerk refused and hit the silent alarm, police said at the time.

The gunman then ran. The clerk followed, calling 911 as he went and encountering a second man believed to have been with the first. The second man also ran.

Officers stopped one of the suspects on Cheltingham Avenue. They retraced his steps and found a handgun matching the one used in the robbery attempt, police said.

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