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A robber who repeatedly shot the owner of a York Township jewelry store during a 2012 holdup has been ordered to spend the rest of his life in federal prison, despite his numerous court motions and letters to a federal judge claiming his innocence.

Jesse A. Brewer, 41, of Queens, N.Y., was one of three men who held up White Jewelers in the St. Charles Way Center about 10:30 a.m. July 12, 2012, according to court records. They stole 53 Rolex watches valued at more than a half-million dollars, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Harrisburg.

During the holdup, Brewer shot store owner John White multiple times, police have said. White was left permanently disabled, federal officials said.

Brewer was sentenced Wednesday in federal court to life in prison plus 20 years, according to a news release from the federal prosecutor's office. He previously pleaded guilty to robbery and firearms charges, court records state.

Co-defendant Jamell Smallwood, 42, of Allentown, previously pleaded guilty to the robbery and was sentenced to 17 years in federal prison, according to the release.

The third co-defendant, Timothy N. Forbes Jr., 34, also of Allentown, has also pleaded guilty and is scheduled to be sentenced March 23, according to court records.

All three men were initially charged in York County. They will not be tried here because federal prosecutors took over the case, York County District Attorney's Office spokesman Kyle King has said.

The background: White, who was 57 at the time, suffered three gunshot wounds — to the abdomen, left arm and shoulder/chest area, police have said.

York Area Regional Police filed charges against Smallwood after the FBI found him being treated for a gunshot wound in New York City's Brooklyn Hospital, police have said.

Police said it appears Smallwood was accidentally shot by one of his fellow robbers after walking out of a back room of the store and startling the gunman during what was described as a chaotic situation.

$4M robbery: Forbes was one of five men arrested for the robbery of a Connecticut jewelry store during which $4 million worth of jewelry, watches and diamonds were stolen, according to police.

When Forbes was captured in his home, investigators found $13,000 cash, police said.

A group of men wearing masks and gloves broke into an apartment in Meriden, Conn., in April 2013 and bound and gagged four people, including the manager and another employee of a Lenox Jewelry store in nearby Fairfield, according to police.

The two employees were placed in the manager's BMW at gunpoint and driven about 40 miles to the store, where they were forced to open the door and to use their access codes to open the safe, authorities have said.

Jailhouse lawyer: Despite being represented by an attorney, Brewer sent a number of letters to a federal judge about his case.

In one, he claimed he was the victim of police corruption because information was added to the probable-cause affidavit filed against him in York County. Such court documents are sometimes amended.

"I want to believe in the justice system but I cannot be subjected to guilt before I can prove my innocence!" he wrote in that letter.

Motion to dismiss: Another letter was a handwritten motion to dismiss his entire federal case, arguing the sitting grand jury that indicted him wasn't "selected, drawn and summoned in accordance with law."

In another, he takes a former attorney to task for apparently speaking with one of the prosecutors on the case, warning the attorney he would report him to the state's disciplinary board.

In October 2013, U.S. District Judge William Caldwell denied Brewer's self-filed motions and stated it would not consider any other motions mailed in by Brewer when he was already represented by an attorney, according to the order.

The robbery was investigated by York Area Regional Police and the FBI, with help from Allentown Police and New York City Police.

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com.

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