ITHACA, N.Y. — An Ithaca man accused of robbing a Lansing home at gunpoint has two days to consider a plea deal or take the case to trial and face twice as long in prison if found guilty.

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Whitley Taylor, 33, was taken into custody last August and charged with first-degree robbery, first-degree burglary and petit larceny. He’s been in custody since then because he was on parole for a second-degree attempted robbery conviction when the alleged incident happened.  His parole was revoked pending the outcome of the case.

In court Wednesday, Deputy District Attorney Andrew Bonavia said because of Taylor’s status as a predicate felon and the charges against him, a guilty plea to felony first-degree attempted robbery would land him in prison for seven years with five years of post-release supervision.

A separate indictment for felony third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance, during which Taylor allegedly sold cocaine in Ithaca, would be pleaded down to six years in prison and 1.5 years post-release supervision.

Judge Scott Miller said that if the case goes to trial, “The minimum sentence that this court could impose is 10 years. The maximum is 25 years.

Miller said the chances of Taylor getting the minimum sentence, however, is “highly unlikely” because of Taylor’s conviction for attempted robbery.

The court, he said, would probably not consider a minimum sentence less than 15 years.

Taylor has until Friday to accept or reject the plea deal.

What happened?

According to court documents, Whitley and another man allegedly entered a home on Aug. 26,2014 at the 100 block of Lockerby Hill Road.

Wearing ski masks and black clothing, they help up residents at gunpoint, the records say.

One man pointed a gun at residents while they laid on the floor, the other searched the home for valuables and kicked the residents when he did not find enough money at the home.

The robbers made off with a laptop, cash and other items.

Police say they were able to trace Taylor to the crime after he was seen on surveillance video at a gas station, shortly after the robbery took place, matching the description of the robbers.

They traced him to his residence in the city of Ithaca using address information from the SUV he was driving at the gas station.

In his apartment, police say they found a ski mask, gloves, an illegally owned semiautomatic pistol and the stolen laptop.

Taylor’s attorney, Matt Van Houten, said his client claims to have bought the laptop from a drug addict shortly before police arrived at the residence.

Second robbery? Court says no.

Taylor was also accused of a second robbery that happened in Dryden August 26, the same night of the Lansing robbery.

According to previous reports, he and another man allegedly robbed a Dryden far, hit a victim with a handgun and stole more than $1,000 from an immigrant farmworker.

He, however, was not indicted on those charges.

Van Houten said that because Taylor was not indicted within six months of being charged, he cannot be prosecuted for the crime.

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Jolene Almendarez

Jolene Almendarez is Managing Editor at The Ithaca Voice. She can be reached at jalmendarez@ithacavoice.com; you can learn more about her at the links in the top right of this box.