D.C.

Ernest Pee, Gregory Trotter sentenced to decades in prison

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Two men from D.C. were sentenced on Thursday to decades in prison for carrying out a conspiracy to rob check-cashing stores that ended with an armed robbery and murder in June 2010 at a business in northeast, U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. announced.

Prabhjot Singh, 30, was killed in one of the store robberies.

Gregory Trotter, 60, was sentenced to 58 years and nine months of incarceration. Ernest Pee Jr., 51, was sentenced to a prison term of 47 years and six months. The men were convicted in December 2011, following a trial in D.C. Superior Court, of more than two dozen felony charges, including conspiracy and felony murder while armed.

The jury found Trotter and Pee guilty of the May 28, 2010 armed robbery of a check-cashing store on Minnesota Avenue, northeast. The men also were convicted in another armed robbery, on June 17, 2010, at a check-cashing store on Benning Road northeast that led to the murder of store owner Prabhjot Singh, 30.

Authorities said the men entered the Minnesota Avenue store with firearms. Trotter shot at the owner, while Pee acted as a look-out. Both men were disguised with construction outfits and had their faces covered. They stole about $6,000 in the robbery. The jury convicted both men of armed robbery, second degree burglary while armed, and various firearms offenses for their roles in this attack.

The evidence also proved that Trotter and Pee entered the Benning Road store in different disguises, with their faces covered by masks. During this crime, Trotter held his gun on two store customers, while Pee shot at Singh’s father, Privthi Pal Singh. Prabhjot Singh died while saving a female customer from Trotter, who was pointing a loaded revolver in her face, authorities said. The defendants stole about $40,000 in the robbery.

The jury convicted both men of one count of felony murder while armed based on the armed robbery, one count of felony murder while armed based on the burglary, armed robbery of a senior citizen, second degree burglary while armed, assault with a dangerous weapon, and various firearms offenses for the crimes at the store on Benning Road.

“Both of these career criminals will spend the rest of their lives in prison for killing a young man while trying to rob his family’s store,” said Machen. “Prabhjot Singh lost his life because he had the courage to stand up and try to protect an innocent woman from being assaulted during a robbery.“

At a ceremony last year, the Singh family was honored by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for D.C. with a posthumous award for the bravery exhibited by Prabhjot Singh in acting to protect others from being hurt in this violent attack.

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