UPDATE: Beckley purse snatchers ask for lighter sentences but was denied

Zachery Cernuto

UPDATE: (12/18/19 at 8:40 am) BECKLEY, WV (AP) — A West Virginia judge denied requests for lighter sentences by two men convicted of repeatedly targeting women in purse-snatching robberies, and instead reaffirmed their 50-year sentences.

Raleigh County Circuit Judge Andrew Dimlich dismissed the requests last week, and noted that the sentences were 10 years less than what prosecutors requested for the crimes, the Register-Herald reported on Monday.

In March, Zachery Alexander Cernuto pleaded guilty to dozens of charges, including 41 counts of fraud with an access device, three counts of first-degree robbery and malicious assault. Cernuto admitted he and a co-defendant, James Gavin Lowe Jr., would drive beside older female victims and grab their purses. Lowe pleaded guilty to similar charges.

In one such instance, the driver accelerated and dragged an 86-year-old woman across a parking lot, sending her to the hospital.

Cernuto’s attorney had asked the judge to reconsider the sentence handed down this spring, saying the defendant had a drug addiction problem. Lowe’s attorney requested the same, and argued Lowe’s roles in the crimes weren’t as large as Cernuto’s.

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UPDATE: (5/7/19 at 3:15 pm) BECKLEY, WV (WOAY) – A purse snatcher will face 50 years in prison.

Raleigh County Prosecuting Attorney Kristen Keller, tells WOAY that Zachery Alexander Cernuto was sentenced by Jude Dimlich today.  He will face a total of 50 years in prison.  He was charged with grand larceny, 41 counts of felony fraud, three counts of first-degree robbery, malicious assault, and petit larceny.

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Original Story on May 15, 2017:

BECKLEY– Two men were in jail on Monday after stealing a purse from an elderly woman.

Monday afternoon two men were reported stealing an 86 year old woman’s purse, injuring her arm in the process. The incident occurred at Beckley Crossing Shopping Center. Later that afternoon, police spotted the suspects’ vehicle and attempted a traffic stop. After the car stopped the men fled the scene on foot, but officers were able to apprehend both suspects. James Gavin Lowe and Zachery Alexander Cernuto are each facing one charge of first-degree robbery, second-degree robbery, grand larceny, conspiracy to commit a felony, and accessory before the fact. Police believe the men have committed other crimes as well and more charges are expected.

Tyler Barker
Tyler Barker is currently the News Director and Digital Content Manager for WOAY-TV. He was promoted to this job in Mid-November. He still will fill in on weather from time to time. You can Follow Tyler on Facebook and Twitter @wxtylerb. Have any news tips or weather questions? Email him at tbarker@woay.com