Jewel thief gets 28 years for failed robbery

Joshua Nowland



When Randy Flatau walked into his jewelry shop in Beaumont’s West End on May 9, 2012, he was already on edge. He and his wife had stared down the barrel of a gun some two weeks before when his family store was robbed by a masked gunman.

But when a man later identified as Joshua George Nowland, 37, of Sacrimento, Calif., walked into Flatau’s small business of more than 20 years asking to buy gold or silver with a wad of cash, Flatau was surprised to later find Nowland’s .22-caliber pistol pointed in his face.

Nowland was indicted May 24, 2012, in Jefferson County and pleaded not guilty to aggravated robbery Tuesday, July 9. He was later convicted that same day after his defense called no witnesses in the trial phase.

In testimony before Judge Layne Walker’s 252nd District Court, Flatau told a jury that at first, he complied with Nowland. After being ordered to the ground, Flatau pleaded with Nowland not to tie his hands with zip ties due to a shoulder injury from the last robbery.

“I couldn’t put my hands behind my back,” Flatau said on the stand Tuesday.

His previous injury would be both a blessing and a curse.

In the struggle to tie Flatau up, Nowland’s .22-caliber pistol went off, striking Flatau in the leg.

“I was bleedin’ pretty good,” Flatau would say in a later interview.

But now a frantic and apologetic Nowland was distracted, saying in testimony during his sentencing phase he didn’t mean to shoot Flatau or hurt anyone.

“I told him to get out,” Flatau said. “Somebody heard that shot.”

After securing a sizable bounty of gold bars and diamond rings worth an undisclosed amount, Nowland made his way to the door, but not before a wounded and angered Flatau brandished a hidden .357 magnum.

“I unloaded that revolver,” Flatau said in an interview.

Nowland was struck at least four times. Bloody crime scene photos Tuesday showed Nowland crawled through the broken glass and out of the store, where he was detained by police moments later.

Limping through the shot-out jewelry cases and blown out glass, Flatau said the firefight that ensued helped to alleviate the pain in his wounded leg, and he held Nowland at gunpoint until police arrived.

“I told him if he moved, I’d kill him,” Flatau said

Police arrived “in no time” according to other witnesses who testified at Nowland’s trial.

After a jury convicted Nowland, it was up to them to sentence the would-be thief.

Nowland’s defense called his mother and father to the stand during the sentencing hearing, who told jurors their son was a college-educated, nature-loving Eagle Scout who had never been in trouble with the law. Nowland’s mother suggested he suffered from undiagnosed Asperger’s syndrome, a form of autism causing difficulties in social interaction.

Nowland has no criminal record, with no convictions for felonies or misdemeanors.

Nowland later took the stand in his own defense, telling jurors he had just lost his job and was desperate. Nowland was thoughtful and soft spoken while on the stand, but somewhat awkward when questioned by prosecutors.

“That was my last $150,” Nowland said to jurors before his sentencing, speaking of the cash he had flashed at the crime scene.