The man who robbed a Casper restaurant and convenience store in late December received a lengthy prison sentence Thursday morning in Natrona County District Court.

Levar Ellis Thompson, 40, was sentenced to 20-25 years on each of two counts of aggravated robbery. Those sentences will run concurrently with one another, and concurrently with another prison sentence Thompson received last week for failure to register as a sex offender.

In late December, Thompson represented an Airsoft pistol as a real firearm when he threatened employees at Wyoming Hot Wings and the Big D convenience store on East 12th Street. The robberies took place within a few days of each other.

"All I could think about was my kids and that no matter what, I had to make it home to them," the clerk who was working at the Big D that night said in court Thursday. "I went into a panic as the man pointed what I believed at the time to be a gun."

"Since that night, I am almost always in a state of anxiety," she continued, explaining to District Judge Catherine Wilking that she could not return to work afterward and continues to deal with the depression and exhaustion that stem from her anxiety. "He broke my confidence."

Thompson's mother and daughter each spoke to Thompson's character.

"My son has always been a champion of the underdog," Carol Thompson said. She told Wilking that Thompson has six children and is a U.S. Army veteran.

She went on to say that her son has not adequately addressed his substance abuse and mental health issues, which led to his behavior in late December.

"My dad is my best friend. He taught me how to drive how to be a woman and how to be myself," Thompson's daughter said. Thompson's son gave a statement via telephone, saying, "My father from my childhood has been my hero."

"I struggle to understand why an individual like the defendant, who has so much with his family, would take that away from a clerk working at a gas station," Assistant District Attorney Dan Itzen said before making his sentencing recommendation.

Of the gas station clerk, Itzen said, "She went home that night, but she went home broken and a different person because of [Thompson.]"

Itzen called Thompson's criminal record "horrible," and said Thompson had previously been given a number of opportunities at treatment, probation and parole.

"What we're left with after each failed attempt, judge, is another victim," Itzen said. He recommended that Wilking sentence Thompson to a prison term of 27-30 years.

"We can no longer allow the defendant to make victims out of people," he concluded.

Public defender Rob Oldham told Wilking that Thompson had shown him "what it means to accept responsibility."

"If you really think it through, Mr. Thompson didn't go in there to hurt anyone, or else he would've gone in there with a real gun," Oldham said, suggesting that Thompson was at such a low point that he perhaps hoped to be killed by police.

Oldham recommended a prison term of 20-22 years. He said that Thompson had found religion while he has been incarcerated as the case moved through the legal system.

"The man that stands before you, your honor, is a good man and he's salvageable. He's more than salvageable -- he's going to help other people in prison," Oldham said.

In his statement to the court before being sentenced, Thompson apologized to the people he threatened during the robberies and asked for their forgiveness.

"I absolutely have no excuse for the things that took place," Thompson said. "I'm not just some thug who decided to go on a rampage."

He said the year leading up to his arrest had been the worst year of his life, and he was despondent when he was arrested and taken to jail.

"I didn't want to live. I felt like I didn't have anything to live for," Thompson said. But he became religious during his time in jail, and said the change has inspired him to help other inmates. Oldham said Thompson has been allowed to hold a Bible study group inside the jail.

"I'm at peace today because this is it," Thompson said of his transformation. "Tomorrow, I get to be someone else."

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