Felon gets 20 years in prison for downtown Charleston robbery that injured doctor

Timothy Lamar Townsend

A longtime felon has pleaded guilty in a robbery that seriously injured a local doctor a year ago in downtown Charleston.

Timothy Lamar Townsend, 52, of Martha Drive in North Charleston, was sentenced to 20 years in prison for the Feb. 18, 2014, robbery in a George Street parking lot, according to court records.

During a Feb. 12 plea hearing, Circuit Judge Roger Young gave him 15 years on a robbery charge and 20 years for assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature. The sentences will be served at the same time.

Townsend, who was at Kirkland Correctional Institution in Columbia on Friday, must spend at least 85 percent of the 20-year sentence and is not eligible for parole.

Before last year’s crime, he had more than 15 robbery convictions and others for aggravated assault, assault with a concealed weapon and burglary.

The Charleston Police Department said that Townsend knocked down Dr. Elizabeth Christian as she returned to the parking lot after eating out with loved ones. He made off with Christian’s purse, the police said.

Officers responded to 911 callers who described the robber, and the authorities soon found Townsend. They also came across several stolen items.

Christian, a specialist from Charleston Hematology Oncology Associates, said this week that a hat found nearby tested positive for the suspect’s DNA.

The physician spent days in the hospital as a result of hitting the pavement. Her injuries required a shoulder replacement and surgery to install plates in her face.

Her shoulder injury has changed the way she examines patients, she said. The ordeal also has made her more watchful in downtown Charleston.

“It has made me more aware of my surroundings,” she said. “But it’s just one of those things that happens.”

Reach Andrew Knapp at 937-5414 or twitter.com/offlede.