A black man, that was found not guilty of armed robbery, will still serve up to ten years in prison after a judge ruled he had breached the rules of his probation terms for another crime.
According to NBC 11 Live in Atlanta, Ramad Chatman turned himself in to police after discovering he was a suspect in a convenience store armed robbery in July 2014. The victim identified Chatman from a Facebook photo a year after the crime had been committed. Chatman, who he was already on probation for five years for a first offense of stealing a $120 dollar T.V. in 2012, maintained his innocence of the crime.
In court, the store clerk testified she remembered, “the tattoo under his eye vividly”. But she couldn’t remember any of the other tattoos on his face, neck, hands, and arms. Court transcripts show each time she testified, she changed the description of the gun and his clothes. A gold revolver, then a black one. Dark clothes, then camouflage shorts. She told the judge she picked Chatman out of a lineup of photos printed on several sheets in a 3-ring binder. Police say they gave her just one sheet with six photos.
When Chatman had his day in court, a jury of his peers found the Georgia resident not guilty of armed robbery and aggravated assault. The judge hearing the case overturned the jury’s decision and re-sentenced Chatman for the original crime of stealing a TV and ordered him to serve 10-years behind bars, back dated to the day of the crime.
While the jury didn’t find the store clerk’s testimony credible, he did. Even though police never found a gun, stolen money, or any other evidence connecting Chatman to the crime, the judge said her testimony was strong enough.
With his probation revoked, Chatman had to go to prison for the original crime. They felony conviction will follow him forever. It’s a 10-year sentence for a $120 TV.
At the time of the trial and sentencing, court documents showed that Chatman was fulfilling all the terms of his probation by remaining gainfully employed, checking in, paying restitution and finishing his community service.
If Chatman hadn’t been arrested for the convenient store robbery, he would have finished his probation, and his record would have been clear, in July.