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Jury finds 'Hoodie Bandit' guilty - 10-year sentence recommended for Chandler

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By Lisa King

A Shelby County jury found Kenneth W. Chandler Jr. of Shelbyville guilty Tuesday of seven counts of robbery and recommended 10 years in prison.

Chandler, dubbed the "Hoodie Bandit," robbed seven area businesses last year that spanned Shelby and Jefferson counties, including the Dollar General Store, a Shell service station, Pizza Hut and Subway.

The jury deliberated only three hours to find Chandler guilty of first-degree robbery in six of the crimes and second-degree robbery in the seventh.

Chandler's formal sentencing will take place Nov. 5 at 10:30 a.m. in Shelby Circuit Court. He could receive between 10 and 50 years and would be eligible for parole after he has served 85 percent of his sentence. He will receive credit for the 10 months he has already served.

Shelby County Commonwealth's Attorney Laura Donnell said she was pleased with the verdict because the jury convicted Chandler of what he was originally charged with, instead of acquiescing to his defense attorney's request that they consider the lesser charge of second-degree robbery.

Joanne Lynch with the Public Defender's Office in Oldham County had asked the jury to consider second-degree robbery charges because her client did not use a real gun in the crimes, only a B.B. pistol. And he was very polite to his victims, she said.

"He absolutely did wrong, and he committed crimes, but the government is exaggerating them," Lynch told jurors. "It is the political season, and they are in overkill mode. The government ought to save their outrage for people who injure other people.

"He is just an addict who was desperate for money."

Donnell told jurors Chandler couldn't use his cocaine addiction as an excuse to rob people.

"So he's a crack addict. He's still guilty; that's no defense," she said.

She added that being polite didn't cut any ice with her, either.

"They didn't give him the money because he was so nice," she said. "They gave it to him because they didn't want to be injured, Is he really sorry he did it, or is he just sorry he got caught?"

Shelbyville Police Officer Bruce Gentry testified that during a search of Chandler's residence, he found a mask hidden in the bottom of a box of Cheerios as well as other clothing used in the robberies. Police couldn't find the weapon used, however, until Chandler led them to it, under a bush in a field outside his home. Gentry testified that he couldn't tell the pistol was not real until he picked it up.

"It looked like a forty-five-caliber handgun," he said.

Chandler has been jailed for the robberies since January. His father, Kenneth Chandler Sr., is also in custody for holding up two banks, Central Bank in Lexington and Citizens Union Bank in Simpsonville. He will sentenced at 9:30 a.m. on Dec. 3 in United States District Court in Lexington.

Chandler Jr.'s wife, Carol Chandler, is also in custody, charged with second-degree robbery in connection with the robbery of Peoples Bank in Spencer County. She was arrested July 28, along with Charles Norton in that incident. She will appear in Spencer County District Court on those charges on Oct. 23 at 9 a.m.