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20 to life for murder of 89-year-old

LISBON — A 50-year-old East Liverpool area man was sentenced to serve 20 years to life in prison for the events that led to the murder of Charles Travis, an 89-year-old U.S. Air Force veteran.

Robert E. Stevens, Fox Chase Road, had pleaded guilty in August to murder, tampering with evidence, aggravated robbery and aggravated burglary.

But during Thursday’s sentencing hearing before Common Pleas Court Judge Scott Washam, Stevens drew the ire of Travis’ family members attending the hearing when he claimed he “didn’t beat that man.” That elicited audible grumbling and harsh words from Travis’ family.

“I didn’t mean for what happened to happen,” Stevens said. “I was under the influence of drugs and medicine … I didn’t beat that man. I could take a lie detector test to prove that.”

Chief Assistant County Prosecutor John Gamble had requested not only Stevens should be sentenced to the mandatory 15 years to life that comes with the murder charge, an unclassified felony, but he asked for an additional five years consecutive to that for the aggravated robbery, aggravated burglary and tampering with evidence charges.

“Charles Travis was a good man, an elderly man, who lived by himself,” Gamble said. “He was loved by his family, He was a productive member of our community and deserved to live out the rest of his days in peace. The day that this happened effectively ended his life despite the fact that he survived for three or four months after the attack.”

Gamble said a number of the family members had sent in victim impact statements prior to the hearing, but no one wished to make a statement in the courtroom.

Stevens had a prior record, Gamble said, sentenced in the mid-1990s to a lengthy prison term by Judge David Tobin for an aggravated robbery offense.

Prior to sentencing, defense attorneys Christopher Weeda and Jennifer Gorby argued the four charges should merge for one consecutive sentence because they all stemmed from the same events on the same day.

Gamble responded that the tampering with evidence charge was for events after the home invasion robbery, which occurred when Stevens used a Fed-Ex box to get Travis to open the door of his Glenmoor home, then beat and robbed the elderly man of his money. Later, Stevens attempted to cover up the crime by destroying both the Fed-Ex box and his own clothing, which were believed to have Travis’ blood on them.

During sentencing, Washam said he felt the 20 years to life prison term was necessary to protect the public from the defendant, who he said was responsible for the “vicious beating death of Mr. Travis.”

Stevens was credited with 620 days served in jail since his arrest.

Initially, he was charged with the aggravated robbery, aggravated burglary and tampering with evidence charges, with the murder charge added by superseding indictment after Travis’ death months after the events.

Travis had never recovered enough from his injuries to give a deposition to investigators from the St. Clair Township Police Department and the county Homicide Task Force, which was called in to assist from the beginning.

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