Armed robber pleads guilty, will serve 15 years

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By The Staff

A man accused of robbing a local service station just over a year ago and threatening to shoot its owner pleaded guilty Monday and will serve 15 years in prison.

Ronald Ray Hopkins pleaded guilty to first-degree robbery, kidnapping, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, fourth-degree assault and alcohol intoxication Monday afternoon just before his jury trial was scheduled to start.

Hopkins will not be eligible for probation or parole and must serve 85 percent of his sentence, said Det. Bryan Taylor with the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office.

Hopkins admitted to robbing the Parkway Marathon on the night of Dec. 7, 2007 and threatening to shoot its owner, John Ellis, who at the time was battling colon cancer.

Ellis was working the night shift when a man entered through the service station’s front door with a shotgun at his side.

“He took the bag of money from the desk and then told me to come on around the back with him,” Ellis told The Anderson News shortly after the incident last year.

“I asked him what for and he said because I’m going to take you around back and shoot you.”

With a gun at his back, Ellis was halfway around the side of the building when he decided to act.

“I thought I didn’t want to go this way, so I just reached up and grabbed him around his neck and brought him to the ground,” Ellis said. “He was hitting me in the face the whole time, but I just held on to him.”

Ellis suffered multiple cuts and bruises before the gun was knocked free.

“I grabbed the gun and pulled the trigger, but it didn’t fire. I reached for the safety and tried again, and it went off,” Ellis said.

Neither man was injured in the blast.

Ellis then ran for safety, but thinking he heard a click like the intruder was reloading the gun, he ran to the other side of the building and stretched out face down on the ground between two semi-trucks.

He stayed there for a few minutes until he thought it was safe to move. He then went back inside the service station and called 911.

A short time later, a friend of Ellis’ reported seeing a man sitting on the guardrail, with a shotgun, by the Shell station close to the Martha Layne Collins Blue Grass Parkway.

Hopkins was apprehended shortly thereafter by the sheriff’s office.