The trial of two men charged with the armed robbery of a local establishment begins today, and one of the suspects could be sentenced to life in prison.

Charlie Hood, 42, and Johnny Cooper, 34, both of Milledgeville, are being tried in the Baldwin County Superior Court for allegedly robbing the Kuntry Store, located at 521 Sparta Highway, on Oct. 6, 2004.

Both men are charged with two counts of armed robbery, said Ocmulgee Judicial Circuit assistant district attorney Stephen Bradley.

The Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office made both arrests.

Baldwin County Sheriff Bill Massee said both men have lengthy criminal records. Hood was convicted of two previous incidents of armed robbery in Baldwin County, one of which was coupled with aggravated assault.

If Hood is convicted a third time, he could be sentenced to life in prison without parole, Massee said.

“It’s three strikes (and) you’re out on armed robbery,” Massee said.

Cooper, whose criminal record is mostly limited to misdemeanors, will not see as stiff a penalty, he added.

“The only difference is that Hood’s record is much worse than Cooper’s,” Massee said. “If they’re found guilty of armed robbery, Hood’s (sentence) will be bigger.”

Bradley said pre-trial hearings were held for most of the day Tuesday, and expressed his optimism about the case.

“We (feel) there’s a good bit of evidence that the jury will hear,” Bradley said. “We’re looking forward to going in the courtroom and getting this to trial.”

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