2017-08-17 / Front Page

Palmer pleads guilty here, will now face N.C. charges

THOMAS PALMER THOMAS PALMER Thomas Glenn Palmer Jr. pleaded guilty to all charges in exchange for sentencing, in the end, to 10 years confinement with no parole plus 10 years probation. Palmer was charged in connection with the December 13, 2015, armed robbery of the Fast Trip convenience store in Tignall.

Palmer also faces charges in connection with the murder of Tim Norris in Cashiers, North Carolina.

“Resolving this case in this manner provides justice for our Wilkes County victims while at the same time bringing the Wilkes County case to final closure so North Carolina can begin their murder trial,” Toombs Circuit District Attorney Bill Doupé said. “Otherwise, North Carolina would have to wait until we try this case and finish the appeals.”

Wilkes County served the North Carolina fugitive warrant on Palmer immediately following the hearing last Friday, August 11, marking the first step in the extradition process to allow North Carolina to take custody of Palmer for his trial there.

“This is a very unique situation,” Doupé explained at the outset of Friday’s hearing. He further explained that coming to agreement in regard to the recommended sentencing and the guilty plea would save time. A trial for Palmer might not take place until the spring, he indicated, but the settlement of the Wilkes County case now “would allow North Carolina to begin the process of bringing him up there to face charges.”

In Wilkes County, the case start- ed off as armed robbery which occurred on December 13, 2015, around 6:30 p.m. at Fast Trip in Tignall. Palmer allegedly entered the store wearing a motorcycle helmet and brandishing a weapon. He said he didn’t want to hurt anybody but demanded money and the clerk immediately put the cash drawer on the counter. “They took what they wanted and left the store,” according to Investigator Jason Gaddy, who took charge of the case for the Wilkes County Sheriff’s Office. About $340 was taken.

Video surveillance revealed distinctive features on the motorcycle helmet worn by the perpetrator and Gaddy was able to determine that the hand gun used was two-tone. He also noted that the perpetrator was wearing a UNC sweatshirt and had a set of keys on a carabiner. With those leads, Gaddy began his investigation. Later, he was assisting North Carolina authorities who were in Tignall to execute a search warrant in connection with the Norris murder. Upon arrival at the site of the North Carolina investigation, he first noticed a motorcycle helmet consistent with the one worn by the perpetrator in the Fast Trip robbery. He also noticed other similar items.

Then with his own search warrant, in addition to the evidence suspected to implicate Palmer in the robbery, Gaddy also discovered marijuana plants growing in the house, and other things.

Later a gun consistent with the one in the convenience store video was discovered at an area pawn shop and connected to Palmer.

Doupé and Gaddy presented this and other evidence at the hearing on Friday.

“Did you commit the offenses as described by the District Attorney?” Toombs Judicial Circuit Judge Harold Hinesley asked Palmer.

“Yes sir, I did,” Palmer responded.

“I know what I did was wrong. I knew what I was doing at the time was wrong but I still followed through with it,” Palmer continued. “Even before I got caught, I was already feeling guilty about what I had done. I just wish I had come forward in the beginning. It’s my fault, I guess, is what I’m trying to say.”

The defense attorney, Public Defender

Chip Hardin, asked for credit for the 540 days Palmer had already served. “Under the circumstances, we endorse the plea arrangement Mr. Doupé has outlined,” he said.

Under that arrangement, Judge Hinesley sentenced Palmer to 10 years of confinement with no parole for armed robbery and aggravated assault; five years probation (consecutive) for possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony; 10 years confinement (concurrent) for manufacture of marijuana; five years (concurrent) for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon; five years confinement (concurrent) for theft by receiving stolen property; and five years probation (consecutive) for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

“When this case first happened, we knew there was going to be a connection with a major investigation in North Carolina involving the murder of Mr. Palmer’s step-fatherin law,” Doupé explained. “They were parallel investigations. Sheriff Mark Moore and I agreed that was imperative that we seek justice here in Wilkes County for the armed robbery charge. The benefit of that was that we could settle our case and also give North Carolina time to get their evidence and everything in a row for their trial.”

The District Attorney also complimented Gaddy, Sheriff Moore, and GBI Agent Tony Williamson for doing “an excellent job in this case.”

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