By Kevin Posival
Killeen Daily Herald
BRYAN - Former Shoemaker defensive lineman Brandon Joiner was sentenced to three years in jail for a 2007 armed robbery that the 23-year-old had been hoping to put behind him for the last five years.
Joiner pleaded guilty to aggravated robbery and a felony drug charge and received three years for each charge Wednesday at the Brazos County Courthouse. The two terms will be served concurrently.
Jay Granberry, Joiner's attorney, said Joiner should be eligible for parole before the end of the year.
"That doesn't mean he'll get it, but we're confident that he will because there's a lot of people rooting for Brandon," Granberry said. "He's impressed a lot of people, every single step of the way since this incident happened when he was 18 years old."
Before his sentence was read aloud in Judge Steve Smith's 361st district court, Joiner told his mother, Cynthia Joiner-Moore, he'd be home in time for Christmas.
"(He) was relieved," Joiner-Moore said. "I'm going to miss him, but it's something that he needs to do."
Joiner was the Sun Belt Conference defensive player of the year in 2011 and recently signed an undrafted rookie free agent contract with the Cincinnati Bengals on May 2. A Bengals representative was present at the sentencing but refused comment.
"I'm just glad that this is over so we can go on with our lives," Joiner-Moore said. "The guy from the Bengals said they would give him another chance, definitely. He said that over and over."
Joiner, who was attending Texas A&M on an athletic scholarship, was arrested in late 2007 on two counts of felony robbery and three drug charges, including one felony, following a Nov. 29, 2007 home invasion at the Callaway Villas Apartments in College Station when he was a freshman.
He received 10 years of probation, 60 days in the Brazos County jail and a $1,000 fine for the first of the two robbery charges in Dec. 2010, but was allowed to graduate from college before being sentenced on the second robbery charge. Joiner graduated from Arkansas State University May 12 with a degree in interdisciplinary studies and spoke often to groups of children about taking responsibility for their actions and the importance of receiving an education.
"Brandon's just fulfilling his obligations to go ahead and serve (his time)," Granberry said. "The DA's office recognized, to a certain extent, Brandon's good deeds and all the strides he's taken since this incident and they gave him the opportunity to graduate."
Joiner and Yemi Bababola, then a junior offensive lineman at Texas A&M, reportedly tied up and mugged a known drug dealer at gunpoint and were arrested six days later on Dec. 5, 2007 after searches of their homes yielded drugs and other pieces of evidence. Both were kicked off the Aggies' football team.
Bababola was convicted of felony robbery at his 2009 trial and received five years in prison. He was granted parole in December and is now a member of the Houston Stallions indoor football team.
Joiner left A&M and played two seasons at Navarro Junior College, where he was an honorable mention NJCAA All-American as a sophomore.
He signed with Arkansas State in 2010 and posted a conference-leading 12 sacks this season to lead the Red Wolves to a 10-2 season and an undefeated run to the Sun Belt Conference title.
At Shoemaker, Joiner was a three-year letterman on the Grey Wolves' defense and was an all-state selection an the U.S. Army Combine defensive most valuable player in 2007 as a senior.