Calling their late-night robbery of an elderly Capawock Theatre ticket-taker a cowardly crime of violence, the Hon. Cornelius J. Moriarty yesterday sentenced Michael B. Ellis, 21, to two years’ incarceration in the Barnstable County Correctional Facility and Brett Geddis, 18, to a year in the Edgartown House of Correction.

In April, both men pleaded guilty to a charge of larceny of a person over the age of 60 and a charge of assault and battery. The two men were initially indicted on charges of assault and battery and unarmed robbery of a person over 60, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison, but charges were reduced in a plea bargain.

Mr. Ellis and Mr. Geddis have been held in the county jail since their arraignment in October of last year.

Michael Ellis
Michael B. Ellis. — Mark Alan Lovewell

“Sir, you have a horrible record, a horrible record,” Judge Moriarty told Mr. Ellis, who stood wearing a dress shirt, necktie and prison chains around his waist in Dukes County Superior Court. “It is clear you are on the way to doing life on the installment plan.”

Assistant district attorney Laura Marshard raised Mr. Ellis’s extensive criminal record. He was clearly crying out for assistance, she said, but the community must be protected. “At what point does the court say, ‘That’s enough?’” asked Ms. Marshard. She described Mr. Ellis’s criminal behavior as escalating and predatory, noting that he had fled the scene where the victim, George Buckley, had fallen.

Mr. Buckley, who was unharmed in the attack and even gave chase despite his artificial knees and hip, was present in the court for the sentencing.

In addition to the jail sentences, Judge Moriarty sentenced Mr. Ellis and Mr. Geddis to three years of highly supervised probation, with special conditions including random drug testing and counseling, among other requirements.

The two also must make restitution of the nearly $500 stolen on the evening of Sept. 30, 2008, from 79-year-old Mr. Buckley as he approached the night deposit box at the Martha’s Vineyard Savings Bank branch on Main street, Vineyard Haven, about two blocks from the Capawock Theatre where he works. The men are prohibited from contact with Mr. Buckley or the Capawock.

“To sneak up with an accomplice on an elderly man . . . was a cowardly crime of violence,” the judge said from the bench. He took the unusual step of retaining personal jurisdiction over the cases of both Mr. Ellis and Mr. Geddis for the duration of their probation, promising severe penalties should either man violate any of his conditions.

In sentencing Mr. Geddis, Judge Moriarty said the crime not only affected Mr. Buckley but the community at large, who felt less safe.

In other matters before the court, Robert A. McKenney, 48, pleaded not guilty to three charges of rape and one charge of assault with intent to rape. He was indicted and arraigned on April 6 after West Tisbury police received a report in March about incidents alleged to have taken place on Jan. 1, 2009 and the previous August. Mr. McKenney is free on $5,000 bail. The case is scheduled to go to a pretrial conference in June.

In a case stemming from the Vineyard Haven heroin bust in November last year, attorney Charles Morano, acting for Alexander Carlson, 22, of Edgartown, filed a motion to dismiss the charge of trafficking class A heroin, 100 to 200 grams.

Mr. Morano argued for a lesser charge of possession with intent to distribute. Trafficking carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in jail, Ms. Marshard said later, while the lesser charge involves no mandatory time.

Mr. Morano said there was no allegation Mr. Carlson was the “kingpin” or partner to the man Mr. Morano did call the kingpin, Kaleb Garde, 26. Mr. Carlson’s involvement was more as a user who distributed small amounts, Mr. Morano said. Mr. Carlson also faces charges of possession of heroin, dealing drugs near a school and conspiracy to violate drug laws.

Ms. Marshard told the court that Mr. Carlson was seated in Mr. Garde’s bedroom when police raided and found Mr. Garde holding a knife with traces of heroin; that Mr. Carlson possessed heroin packaged in the same way as Mr. Garde; that Mr. Carlson’s name appeared more than 50 times on “chit sheets” documenting the heroin distribution. She said that while Mr. Garde may have been the kingpin, Mr. Carlson was one of his functionaries.

Judge Moriarty took the issue under advisement ahead of a June 23 court date.