TOPEKA, KAN. – A Topeka man was sentenced Friday to 12 years in federal prison for committing robberies at businesses in Topeka and Manhattan, U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said.
Christopher James Wilhoite, 26, Topeka, Kan., pleaded guilty to two counts of commercial robbery and one count of unlawful possession of a firearm in furtherance of a robbery. In his plea, Wilhoite admitted that on March 29, 2014, he robbed a clerk at Car Toyz, 5849 S.W. 21st in Topeka. The store sells mobile audio, video and vehicle security systems.
Wilhoite entered the store, browsed for a few minutes, and told the clerk: “I know what I want – the money.” He took money from the register and from the clerk’s wallet before loading some electronic items into a bag. When he noticed a surveillance camera, he forced the clerk to show him the recorder and threw that in the bag, too. Then he fled the store. Investigators later found his fingerprints in the store.
Wilhoite also admitted that on April 16, 2014, he robbed the Dollar General at 2321 Tuttle Creek Boulevard in Manhattan, Kan. He pointed a gun at a clerk and said: “Hey, I need money.” He put the clerk and another employee in a bathroom at gunpoint and told them to count to 200 while he fled the store.
Grissom commended the Topeka Police Department, the Riley County Police Department, the FBI and Assistant U.S. Attorney Jared Maag for their work on the case.