Jury convicts 2 gangsters in string of armed robberies

Jury convicts 2 gangsters in string of armed robberies »Play Video
November 2011 File photo.

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — Two men were convicted Friday by a Kern County jury in what the district attorney's office called a "significant gang case."

Charles Lawton, 31, and Dupree Langston, 19, are members of the West Side Crips. They were convicted of multiple counts of robbery with a firearm, with gang enhancements, and each could face 70 years in California prison when they're sentenced in April, the district attorney's office said.

Lawton and Langston are responsible for eight armed robberies in the fall of 2011. The shop owner shot in defense during an Oct. 30, 2011, robbery at Max Muscle in southwest Bakersfield.

Max Muscle owner Jeff Ravelle told Eyewitness News the day after the robbery about his early morning ambush. He and his girlfriend went into his nutrition and exercise-supplement store off Gosford Road and White Lane to get receipts and money. He was in his store for only a few minutes that night when, "Next thing I know, there is a gun to the back of my head."

"(One of the men) made (my girlfriend) strip naked and had a gun to her head. They told us that they were going to kill us like three times," Ravelle told Eyewitness News.

Lawton and Langston ran away when Ravelle grabbed his gun and began firing.

The gangsters robbed mostly jewelry stores and check-advance stores in Bakersfield, Delano and Visalia, the district attorney's office said Friday.

Other Bakersfield businesses hit by Lawton and Langston that fall were Gold Buyers on Ming Avenue, Dollars for Gold on Niles Street, Gold Rush Jewelers on Brundage Lane and AutoZone on Niles.