A Contra Costa County judge sentenced a Richmond man last week to 27 years in state prison for a first-degree residential robbery in Brentwood that occurred five days before he was arrested for casing a Rite Aid in Livermore, according to prosecutors.
The underlying break-in saw Paul Victor Simmons, also known as Paul Muscat, hold a woman at gunpoint inside her bedroom, with her two young daughters in the home as well, before she managed to escape and hide with her kids and he stole property before fleeing in September 2018, according to the Contra Costa County District Attorney's Office. Simmons was also previously convicted of shooting this same woman's husband in Livermore five years prior.
"What the victim experienced that morning is anyone's worst nightmare: The defendant put her behind the barrel of a handgun, in her own bedroom, just feet away from her 1- and 3-year-old daughters," said deputy district attorney Amy Bailey, who prosecuted the case.
"The evidence was overwhelming -- after once trying to take the life of victim's husband, the defendant tracked her down, invaded her home and forever robbed her family of their sense of safety," Bailey added in a statement. "The victim's bravery, the first-rate investigation by Brentwood and Livermore PD, the jury's verdict, and the court's well-reasoned sentence may finally help this family begin to feel safe again in their own home."
According to prosecutors, the woman woke up in her Brentwood home early in the morning of Sept. 17, 2018 to notice someone in the bathroom behind a curtain but quickly realized it was not her husband.
"The defendant was wearing a mask, armed with a handgun he stole from the victim's closet," according to the DA's office. "The defendant pointed the handgun at the victim and directed her downstairs. She was able to escape from him and she went up to her bedroom with her children to hide."
While they hid, Simmons stole multiple items from the home including three of the husband's firearms, an Apple Watch, Beats headphones, car keys and ammunition, according to prosecutors.
Brentwood police later determined the robber entered through the garage, and had actually searched for blueprints of the home days before breaking in.
Five days later, Simmons was arrested by Livermore police after acting suspiciously inside of a Rite Aid. He was casing the store, wearing a disguise and gave a fake name to officers, prosecutors said.
"Police located some of the items from the victim's home, including the victim's husband's handgun," prosecutors said. "The Livermore investigation also connected Simmons to a string of other burglaries in Livermore for which the defendant was convicted in Alameda County."
After pleading not guilty, Simmons went to trial this summer for the Brentwood robbery. A Contra Costa County jury found him guilty on Aug. 12 of felony first-degree robbery and first-degree burglary with a person present, along with an enhancement to the first charge of use of a firearm.
Contra Costa County Superior Court Judge John Cope sentenced Simmons to 27 years in prison last week. The sentence included the judge imposing a strike against Simmons.
It marked Simmons' second strike. He received a strike conviction in 2014 of assault with a firearm for shooting the Brentwood victim's then-boyfriend, now-husband, in Livermore one year earlier, prosecutors said.