Peckler said he was bound by law to make sure Durham served time in prison.
“Because there is a firearm involved and this is a violent crime, I couldn’t probate him if I wanted to, and I’m not saying I want to,” the judge said.
Durham, 26, will have to serve 85 percent of his sentence — nine years, three months — before being eligible for a parole hearing.
Durham is accused, along with his cousin Michael Durham, of carrying a firearm while breaking into the Biggers’ home. Prosecutors contend Shawn Durham pistol whipped Warren Bigger and then ran the gun along Mary Bigger’s spine while he demanded the combination to the couple’s safe, said Susanne McCullough, Shawn Durham’s attorney.
The Durhams made off with old coins, cash, jewelry and a laptop in the robbery and fled. An extensive manhunt was launched, and the Durhams were finally captured several days later in Wise County, Va., where they were charged with additional counts of burglary and theft.
Shawn Durham rejected a 10-year plea deal and was scheduled for trial on Jan. 31, but on the morning the trial was to begin, he entered an open guilty plea.
Michael Durham, 24, also of Stanford, rejected that same plea offer during his pretrial conference Tuesday, and Peckler set his trial date for June 19. His attorney, William Noelker of Danville, said he talked extensively with his client before the decision was made to go to trial. Noelker declined to discuss any possible defense strategies.
Commonwealth’s Attorney Richie Bottoms said the Biggers and a Virginia state trooper to whom Shawn Durham allegedly admitted his role in the robbery will be the prosecution’s main witnesses at the trial, which is expected to last three days.