A Peterburg man with an extensive criminal record was sentenced to serve 25 years in prison Thursday for gunning down a tow truck driver who was attempting to repossess his car in a crime a prosecutor described as an “exceedingly selfish” ambush attack.
“This was an innocent person just doing his job,” Senior Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Elsa Seidel told a Petersburg judge of the victim, Allan Humphries, who was killed just after midnight on Jan. 11, 2018, when a single round pierced the back window of his tow truck and struck him in the head.
The shooter, Anton B. Robinson, 22, “basically ambushed this tow truck driver,” Seidel declared. “That man never had a chance to help himself.”
Humphries, a beloved father and grandfather, never saw or heard it coming. One moment he was preparing to repossess Robinson’s 2012 Audi — which his girlfriend had purchased for him with a loan — and an instant later he was fatally shot as he sat in the driver’s seat of his tow truck, according to evidence.
When police arrived, officers found the tow truck backed into a driveway with its engine running and in reverse gear with its lights on and doors locked. Humphries, 42, was still wearing earbuds. The Williamsburg man had just hung up the phone after talking with someone from River City Recovery, his employer.
Right next to his body was a copy of the repossession order.
“He was taking back a vehicle the defendant didn’t even pay for,” said Seidel, in arguing for a punishment at the high end of state sentencing guidelines.
As it turned out, Robinson’s girlfriend, Amy Jackson, had purchased the vehicle for her boyfriend several months earlier, but had made only one payment in September 2017. Warnings the car would be repossessed apparently were ignored.
After a sentencing hearing in Petersburg Circuit Court that included emotionally charged testimony from the victim’s family, Circuit Judge Joseph M. Teefey Jr. sentenced Robinson to 43 years in prison with 18 years suspended on convictions of second-degree murder and felony use of a firearm. Discretionary state sentencing guidelines crafted for Robinson called for an active prison term of 16 years and two months on the low end and 27 years and five months at the high end.
Nate Skaggs, Robinson’s attorney, urged the court to sentence his client to a total of 18 years, based on Robinson’s young age and anticipated family support when he is released.
The acute and bitter pain experienced by the victim’s family was evident during Thursday’s hearing, when his brother and mother testified about how they still are suffering more than 20 months after the slaying.