Armed robber sentenced to 14 years in federal prison

Matthew Lane • Feb 16, 2019 at 8:00 PM

GREENEVILLE — A 47-year-old Bristol, Tenn., man has been sentenced to 155 months in federal prison for the 2016 armed robbery of the Big Orange Market.

Robert Edward Howland was also sentenced to an additional 12 months in prison for violating the terms of his supervised release from a prior conviction. Howland received the sentence this past Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Greeneville.

Upon release from prison, Howland will be on probation for the remainder of his life.

According to the plea agreement, Howland admitted to robbing the Big Orange Market in Bristol, Tenn., in November of 2016 by brandishing a pistol, pointing it at the clerk and putting it against her back.

The robbery took place at approximately 7:20 a.m. and Howland took $250 from the cash register. He was not wearing a mask at the time of the robbery, court records state.

One witness told authorities that Howland had been in the market on previous occasions asking questions like “How long does it take police to get here?” and “What kind of security cameras do you have?”

In addition to the robbery, Howland admitted to walking the clerk out of the store at gunpoint and attempting to force her inside his truck. Prosecutors say a combination of the clerk yelling for help and other customers rushing to her rescue resulted in Howland speeding off alone.

After the police located him, Howland refused to stop and led officers on a lengthy, four-county pursuit from Bluff City to Jefferson City. When officers finally stopped him on a dead end road and approached his vehicle, Howland was holding the same firearm he used to rob the store.

Court records state that at the time of the robbery, Howland was on supervised release from a December 2011 conviction in federal court for failing to register as a sex offender. Court records state Howland was convicted of rape and kidnapping in Thurston County, Washington, in 1995.