By Kevin Hogencamp
Residents of the quiet east Albany neighborhood that includes Keystone Avenue say they can now rest easy.
Benjamin Revills is going to prison.
In a plea agreement on Monday, Judge Willie Lockette sentenced Revills, 23, to five years in prison for breaking into a Keystone residence.
Eleven neighbors who signed a petition say that Revills has terrorized their homes and families and introduced children to crime since he beat a 2007 murder rap. Pat Donahoue and burglary victim Tenley Thomas, who scuffled with Revills after a break-in and assisted police with his arrest, attended Revills’ sentencing on Monday.
“I have known Ben since he was a young police boy to the tough young man he is today,” Donahoue said in a letter to District Attorney Greg Edwards. “I am here today to beg you to please do not unleash Ben Revills back into our neighborhood … I have the courage to come here and face Ben in the courtroom, but I honestly am afraid to face him again on the street.”
Thomas said he and his neighbors off East Broad Avenue near Turner Field Road are breathing a sigh of relief.
“He’ll probably be gone at least 18 months,” Thomas said. “We have our neighborhood back.”
Donahoue said Revills has broken into her home many times, but that she didn’t have anything for him to steal. She said many of her neighbors have been too afraid of Revills to report his crimes to police.
“A lot of people wouldn’t sign this (letter to Edwards). They are afraid. Afraid in their own homes,” she said.
Revills was involved in a November 2007 altercation at the nearby Motel 6 on East Oglethorpe Boulevard in which two people were killed. Police surmised that Revills was part of a group of young men who robbed a Newnan, Ga., man who shot one of the assailants during the robbery. A murder charge against Revills was dropped; his two co-defendants were convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison.
Revills also was sentenced Monday for violating terms of his probation, and he was placed on 15 additional years’ probation.
Thomas and Donahoue had hoped to have their concerns about Revills heard in court, but Revills’ plea agreement had already been reached before Monday’s hearing.
“We live in a very sweet neighborhood and most of us have lived here for 20 years or more,” Donahoue said. “The family to the left of Ben’s house has raised three children there, the oldest dying in Iraq. They have taken some of his life insurance to turn their home into a fortress to protect themselves against Ben and his gang.
“They have installed a security system, motion lights, bars on their windows and a security fence. They plan on staying, but the rest of us are afraid to stay if Ben returns. The gentleman who lives across from Ben is a long-distance trucker. He has been burglarized four times (and) the family to the right of Ben would not sign the petition because their grandson sits in jail for selling stolen goods which Ben stole.”
Still, Donahoue says she expects the neighborhood that she has enjoyed to return to normal – at least for the time being.
“This is our neighborhood hero,” she said of Thomas. “The whole neighborhood should be grateful to him for making things normal for us again.”