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Lincoln man sentenced to at least 40 years for involvement in 2019 crime that left two dead
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Lincoln man sentenced to at least 40 years for involvement in 2019 crime that left two dead

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Rubin J. Thomas, the Lincoln man singled out as the mastermind behind a 2019 robbery that led to the death of two people, was sentenced Thursday to 40 to 52 years in prison.

Lancaster County District Court Judge Susan Strong handed down the sentence on conspiracy charges connected to the break-in that left Audrea Craig and Martae Green dead and has now landed four men, including Thomas, in prison.

Strong sentenced Thomas to 26 to 32 years after he pleaded no contest to a felony robbery charge and 14 to 20 years on a related burglary charge. The sentences will run consecutively. Thomas received credit for 543 days served and will be parole-eligible in 20 years. 

The sentencing came after defense attorney John Jorgensen spent close to 20 minutes casting doubt on the assumed facts of the case, taking aim at investigators, prosecutors, co-conspirators and the media. 

Prosecutors had alleged that Thomas was behind the plan to rob Craig of drugs and money at about 3:45 a.m. on July 24, 2019, when two men broke into her home at 26th and South streets.

Police said Charles Gresham III and his older brother, Green, kicked in the door, both of them armed, and confronted Craig in her bedroom. Craig fired a single shot from her Ruger 9 mm, hitting Green in the groin. Then, her gun malfunctioned, and Green fired seven rounds, hitting her at least twice in the chest and killing her. 

Thomas was not in the house. 

Green was later pronounced dead at Bryan West Campus. Gresham pleaded no contest on charges of manslaughter, attempted robbery and use of a firearm. Two other men Jesse T. Foster and Sylvester LeBlanc Jr.  agreed to plea deals on conspiracy charges

At Thursday's sentencing hearing, Jorgensen repeatedly rejected the notion that Thomas had planned the crime, pointing to inconsistencies in the accounts of LeBlanc and Foster in particular, while calling Thomas' role as the crime's organizer a "theory."

"It would be terribly unjust and unfair to walk away from this matter with any sort of conclusion that Mr. Thomas was the 'mastermind,'" Jorgensen said.

The defense attorney took particular issue with a Journal Star report that indicated Thomas had planned the robbery. That allegation was attributed to prosecutors.

Jorgensen asserted that the attempted burglary wasn't planned at all but said that Thomas had taken responsibility for his role in the crime. He pointed to Thomas' educational aspirations and familial ties in an attempt to lessen the defendant's sentence.

Thomas told the court he regretted his role in the attempted burglary. 

"I'm very sorry for what happened," Thomas said. "I'm not responsible for what happened, but at the same time, I'm very remorseful for what happened. ... If I could take it back, we wouldn't be sitting here today." 

Strong was unmoved. 

"Well, there were three attempts to break into Ms. Craig's home in that July of 2019 period," Strong said, addressing Thomas. "And by all accounts, you were involved in all three. I get that not from the press, but from the depositions of Mr. LeBlanc, Mr. Foster, all the witness statements and all the evidence gathered by the Lincoln Police Department.

"You've had a lot of inconsistent stories about what happened that night of July 24. But really, the only constant was that you were the mastermind behind that failed robbery." 

Reach the writer at 402-473-7223 or

On Twitter @andrewwegley. 


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A Kansas City, Missouri, native, Andrew Wegley joined the Journal Star as breaking news reporter after graduating from Northwest Missouri State University in May 2021.

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