COLLIER COUNTY, Fla. - A 29-year-old man who stole items from a North Naples retail store and then threatened two store security guards with a knife before leading deputies on a high-speed pursuit in January has been sentenced to prison.
Terrance Jerard Christian of Fort Myers pleaded no contest to two counts of felony aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and to misdemeanor petty theft at a hearing in Collier County Circuit Court on Wednesday.
Circuit Judge Fred Hardt accepted the plea and adjudicated Christian guilty before sentencing him as a prison release reoffender to five years in prison on the aggravated assault charges. The five-year sentences are to be served at the same time. Christian received time served on the misdemeanor theft charge.
Christian's designation as a prison release reoffender means that he will not be eligible for early release and must serve 100 percent of his five-year prison sentence.
Collier County Sheriff's Office reports give this account of the events leading up to Christian's arrest:
On Jan. 26, North Naples deputies responded to a report of a theft in progress at the T.J. Maxx store, 5010 Airport-Pulling Road. Two store loss prevention officers told deputies that two men and a woman just left the store with stolen merchandise. One of the men, later identified as Christian, had the stolen property, men's and women's clothing, concealed on his person.
The loss prevention officers further stated that they tried to stop Christian and he pulled a knife and threatened to stab them. Christian was wearing a distinctive blue sports jersey with the number "82" and the name "Crowell" on the back.
Christian fled in a vehicle. Deputies spotted the vehicle traveling north on Interstate 75. When the deputies, who were in a marked patrol car, pulled up behind the suspect vehicle, the driver, Christian, sped up. Deputies pursued the vehicle, which was traveling at speeds up to 100 mph, into Lee County. They lost sight of the vehicle near the Gulf Coast Town Center.
Detectives located the getaway vehicle in Fort Myers. The vehicle was processed for evidence and a fingerprint found inside matched Christian.
On Feb. 9, deputies spotted Christian, who had a warrant for his arrest in connection with the T.J. Maxx theft, leaving the Wal-Mart store at 11225 U.S. 41 N. Deputies placed Christian under arrest. A search turned up four shower curtains concealed under Christian's clothing.
At the time of his arrest, Christian was wearing the same blue sports jersey that he wore during the T.J. Maxx theft.
He has been in custody at the Collier County jail since his arrest.
At Wednesday's court hearing, Christian also pleaded no contest to felony petty theft/third or subsequent offense in connection with the Wal-Mart theft. He received four years state probation, which he must serve after he completes his prison sentence.
Christian is a documented career criminal with the Collier County Sheriff's Office. His prior felony convictions are all out of Lee and Charlotte counties. Those charges include a 2005 conviction in Charlotte on charges of battery on a law enforcement officer, resisting arrest with violence and aggravated fleeing or attempting to elude a law enforcement officer for which he was sentenced to four years in state prison.
Christian was last released from state prison on Nov. 15, 2009, after completing a one-year sentence on a felony charge of driving on a suspended or revoked license out of Lee County.