Armed robber wanted to go back to prison

Mark James WIlson

ESCANABA — The downstate man charged with armed robbery of the Escanaba Hardee’s restaurant was sentenced to 25 to 40 years in prison in Delta County Circuit Court Monday.

Mark James Wilson, 59, of 10098 Woodlawn Drive, Portage, pleaded guilty to one count of armed robbery – habitual offender – fourth offense. He was sentenced to a minimum of 25 years to a maximum of 40 years in prison. He was credited for 153 days already served.

“Somewhere along the road, your Honor, I just seemed to have lost the ability to function normally with society,” Wilson said. “I would like to say to the people that I apologize in the most sincere manner for my behavior on the ninth (of) July.”

Wilson was arrested on July 9 after attempting to rob the Hardee’s restaurant in Escanaba.

At about 11:35 a.m. on July 9, Delta County Central Dispatch received a 911 call reporting a man had passed a note to a cashier at Hardee’s indicating he was robbing the restaurant.

Wilson then entered the restaurant’s bathroom and stayed there until local law enforcement officers arrived on the scene.

Escanaba Public Safety officers entered the restaurant and were eventually able to talk Wilson into exiting the bathroom without incident. No firearms were found.

Chief Assistant Lauren Wickman, Wilson’s attorney Tim Cain and Wilson himself all brought up how Wilson wanted to return to prison as he felt he was unable to adapt to the outside world.

According to Cain, Wilson made it clear to him from the beginning that he had committed the crime to get back in prison and that he was hoping it’d be for a very long time.

“In discussing it, (Wilson) tells me he’s happy enough with 25 to 40 (years),” Cain said.

Delta County Circuit Court Judge John Economopoulos told Wilson that despite him being unable to be a law abiding citizen in the outside world that he hopes he is one within prison as it would be his world for many years.

“If this outside world is a hostile environment for you, and the inside world of the Department of Corrections is the institution in which you’re most familiar and in which you feel the most comfortable in your own individual — and perhaps to the outside observer — peculiar way then my message to you is this: if you cannot be or do not desire to be a law abiding citizen on the outside, at least do your very best to be a model on the inside,” Economopoulos said. “When you go back to prison, a place where you’re abundantly familiar with, do your best to be a model citizen within those confines because that will be your world for many years to come. Your opportunity at redemption, your opportunity at solace and finding your own wisdom on respect to your path will best be found within the prison system — make the best of it.”

During the sentencing hearing, Wickman also brought up Wilson’s extensive criminal history and his lack of ties to the Delta County area.

“From looking at his criminal history, it dates back to 1982 with his first assault with an attempt to rob armed, and it proceeds from there with an unarmed robbery, an assault with attempt to rob, an unarmed robbery, that 2009 one — he also appeared in Delta County,” Wickman said. “It’s also an interesting and somewhat unique situation in that Mr. Wilson has very little to any ties to the Delta County community but has twice committed a scary and violent offense within our community.”

The Hardee’s incident was Wilson’s second robbery attempt in Escanaba in the last 10 years.

Wilson committed an unarmed robbery of Arby’s restaurant in Escanaba in 2009. He received a prison sentence of three years for that robbery.

During Monday’s sentencing hearing, Wilson was ordered to pay $258 in fines and costs.


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