WATERLOO – A convenience store clerk told jurors she doesn’t remember anything after the masked robber punched her in the head a second time.
And it was more than a year before she could watch the whole surveillance camera video of what happened while she was unconscious, the woman said Wednesday, part of her face still numb from the February 2018 beating.
Taking the stand, the woman was the third store clerk to testify at trial in a string of corner shop holdups that prosecutors said was carried out by 26-year-old Jamar Ronod Wise of Waterloo.
According to testimony, violence in the robberies escalated. In the first, the unarmed assailant stayed on the customer side of the counter and reached into the register to snatch the loot, and in the second he hopped the counter and grabbed the female clerk by the hair and around the neck.
In the third, the robber added sexual assault.
The B&B East employee said she was in the kitchen shortly after opening when she heard the bell ring indicating someone had entered the business. When she looked up, she saw a man in all black wearing what appeared to be a do rag flipped around to cover his face.
The robber asked if the store’s owner was there, using the owner’s name, and then he said he wanted access to the room with security videos, which the employee didn’t have.
According to the clerk and footage from the cameras, he then pushed her toward the cash registers and started emptying the cash. At that point, he put a hand down her pants and told her, “I’m to have you right here, right now.”
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After that, he renewed his request to get at the security video recorder, and she decided to pretend she had the keys to the room and reached for her coat.
And then the punches started.
“I didn’t see it coming at all,” she said.
The next thing she remembered was waking up on the floor. She grabbed a bottle of alcohol to wield as a weapon, but the attacker had fled. She said her pants were partially pulled down, and her face was in pain.
“It hurt so bad … worse than child birth,” she said of her face.
Investigator Christopher Gergen with the Waterloo Police Department said the store’s video showed the robber had continued to punch the clerk after she collapsed unconscious, and he had resumed sexually assaulting her with his hand.
The attack left the worker with brain bleed, a broken orbital bone and a fractured jaw, and she was treated at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City.
Officer Kenneth Schaaf said he discovered footprints in the snow leading from the store’s entrance to the parking area of an auto repair shop next door. Gergen said investigators found exterior surveillance camera footage that showed a blue car drive past the store twice minutes before the robbery. He said the car’s features were consistent with a Ford Taurus that Wise drove at the time.
Wise is also charged with robbing the Metro Mart on Falls Avenue on Jan. 29, 2018; the Neighborhood Mart on Lafayette Street on Jan. 31, 2018; and the PrimeMart on Broadway Street on Feb. 27, 2018. He was arrested after approaching the YesWay on San Marnan Drive while wearing a mask on March 20, 2018.