Lawry's The Prime Rib
Photo courtesy of Lawry’s The Prime Rib

A state appeals court panel Tuesday upheld the conviction of a serial robber who is serving a 620-year-to-life prison sentence for targeting businesses in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley — including famed Beverly Hills prime rib restaurant Lawry’s — a decade ago.

The three-justice panel from California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal rejected the defense’s contention that there were errors in Alonzo Harris’ Los Angeles Superior Court trial, in which he was convicted in September 2013 of more than three-dozen counts, including robbery, attempted robbery, false imprisonment and possession of a firearm by a felon.

Harris has a string of convictions dating back more than three decades.

At Harris’ July 2014 sentencing, Superior Court Judge Stephen Marcus said, “You have someone who’s basically a crime machine … His entire life has been filled with crime.”

The judge said the series of robberies and attempted robberies for which Harris was convicted typically occurred at businesses in the middle of the night or early morning and “terrorized” dozens of employees.

In its 42-page ruling, the appellate court justices noted that the prosecution theorized that Harris committed robberies between October 2007 and December 2007 with a man who was shot and killed by Los Angeles police officers in January 2008. Harris also carried out a few robberies by himself and one with an unidentified accomplice before being joined for the last robbery attempt on July 11, 2008, which resulted in his arrest.

Harris was convicted along with co-defendant Floyd Nelson in an attempted hold-up at Lawry’s The Prime Rib restaurant at 100 N. La Cienega Blvd. in Beverly Hills about 6 a.m. July 11, 2008.

The two — who had been under surveillance — were followed by Los Angeles police from the attempted robbery, and Nelson was shot by undercover officers minutes after a chef at Lawry’s was approached at gunpoint and unsuccessfully ordered to open the safe, authorities said.

The appellate court panel upheld Nelson’s conviction on one count each of attempted robbery, conspiracy to commit robbery and being a felon in possession of a firearm involving the attempted robbery at Lawry’s, but ordered his case to be sent back for re-sentencing. The justices agreed with the defense’s contention that Nelson’s 50-year-to-life sentence was improperly enhanced with two prior conviction allegations that were added after the jury that heard the case against him had already been discharged.

–City News Service

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