A District man has been sentenced to 22 years in prison for breaking into the home of his elderly grandparents and robbing them at gunpoint.
Riley Mercer, 40, had moved in with his grandparents in Northeast Washington in 2010 shortly after serving 19 years in prison. The elderly couple embraced their grandson, and gave him a job at the security guard company they owned, prosecutors said.
At work, Mercer learned that his grandparents kept a large amount of payroll cash in a safe hidden in their bedroom closet and that only his 77-year-old grandmother knew the combination, charging papers said.
In the early morning hours of Sept. 29, 2011, Mercer, along with two other men, all wearing masks, snuck into his grandparents' bedroom and awakened the couple, according to court documents.
While one of men stuffed a cloth into the mouth of Mercer's 74-year-old grandfather and tied him with a telephone cord, another man put a gun to the grandmother's head and dragged her to the closet.
The gunman threatened to shoot the grandmother if she didn't open the safe, court papers said, document said. After she unlocked the safe, he tossed her on the bed, placed a pillow on her head, and tied her up with a bathrobe.
The grandmother heard one of the men whisper through clenched teeth, "Don't hurt her," and she immediately recognized the voice as belonging to her grandson, the court papers said.
The men left the elderly couple tied and bound on their bed and ran off with about $15,000 in cash from the safe. The victims' eldest daughter eventually heard them crying for help and untied them.
The other two thieves have never been identified.
In June, a D.C. jury found Mercer guilty of charges of conspiracy, burglary while armed, kidnapping while armed, armed robbery of a senior citizen and related weapons offenses. He was sentenced Wednesday to a 22-year prison term and ordered to pay $15,000 in restitution.