Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Twins Get 10 Years for Attack on Patient; Man Was in Wheelchair; His Wife Was Beaten, Too

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Twins Get 10 Years for Attack on Patient; Man Was in Wheelchair; His Wife Was Beaten, Too

Article excerpt

Byline: TERESA STEPZINSKI

BRUNSWICK - Identical twin sisters will dress alike for the next 10 years after a Glynn County judge sentenced them to matching prison terms Friday for beating a cancer patient in a wheelchair and his wife near the Brunswick hospital.

Superior Court Judge Stephen Scarlett wondered aloud whether 19-year-old sisters Markita and Marquita King have consciences before imposing the prison terms at the end of an emotional sentencing hearing in which the twins' mother, grandmother and other family asked him to be lenient.

Scarlett said in his 10 years on the bench, few crimes have been so disturbing as the attack on patient Robert Johns and his wife, Keri, of Folkston. The Johnses were staying at Karen's House of Hope, a FaithWorks ministry house for cancer patients near Southeast Georgia Health System's Brunswick hospital.

"Other than a child victim, I don't know of anything worse than preying on someone in a wheelchair. This is a very troubling case," Scarlett said.

The sisters attacked the couple as Keri Johns pushed her husband in his wheelchair along Parkwood Drive near the hospital and its Cancer Care Center shortly after 11 a.m. on May 19.

Attempting to rob him, the twins pulled Johns out of his wheelchair onto the street and struck him. One sister punched Keri Johns in the face as she tried to protect her husband, and keep them from stealing his small duffel bag, which contained all his medication and all their possessions, police have said.

Glynn County sheriff's deputy Michael Heath was driving to assist another deputy when he saw the attack and stopped it, Sheriff's Office officials have said.

The sisters each pleaded guilty to two counts of felony aggravated assault on Oct. 1 in a plea agreement calling for prosecutors to dismiss two misdemeanor counts in the case.

On Friday, Scarlett noted testimony that the twins were out on the street at age 5, often slept in urine and filth while living in a series of squalid rat- and roach-infested temporary homes throughout their childhood because of their mother's past drug addiction.

"We can agree they had a difficult childhood, but I think they know right from wrong," said Scarlett, who cited the sisters' history of misdemeanors as juveniles. …

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