Having already been convicted in federal court of impersonating a diplomat and being a felon in possession of a firearm, the self-styled ambassador for the Conch Republic was found guilty of state related charges Tuesday after a two-day trial in Jefferson County Circuit Court.

Having already been convicted in federal court of impersonating a diplomat and being a felon in possession of a firearm, the self-styled ambassador for the Conch Republic was found guilty of state related charges Tuesday after a two-day trial in Jefferson County Circuit Court.


The Nimrod Sterling, who legally changed his name from Nimrod Sanders, was convicted of two counts of aggravated assault stemming from an incident on Sept. 30, 2014 when he allegedly pointed a gun at two teenagers leaving Pine Bluff High School.


The seven woman, five man jury deliberated several hours Tuesday before deciding that Sterling should be fined $10,000 on two counts of aggravated assault, a Class D felony, but did not impose any prison time.


"When someone gets out of a vehicle and points a gun at two Pine Bluff High School girls, they should, in our opinion, serve time. But the jury didn’t give any additional time," Prosecuting Attorney S. Kyle Hunter said Wednesday.


Hunter said Sterling was convicted as an habitual offender with five or more prior felonies and could have been sentenced to up to 15 years on each count.


Sterling is currently serving a 57-month federal prison sentence after being convicted in federal district in May 2015 and was brought back to Pine Bluff from a prison in Texas where he was serving his sentence. He will be returned to Texas later this week.


In a phone call from the adult detention center Wednesday afternoon, Sterling said he didn’t blame the jury for convicting him because they heard only one side of the story, since he didn’t testify during the guilt or innocence phase.


"My attorney advised me not to testify because of my past criminal record," said Sterling, who did testify during the penalty phase of the trial. "I believe when they figured out that I didn’t do it, they didn’t give me any jail time."


The federal court conviction followed accusations that Sterling pretended to be a diplomatic official from a foreign country to obtain something of value, namely immunity from a traffic citation from an Arkansas State trooper on Oct. 1, 2013. The federal court also contended that Sterling tried to use diplomatic immunity to possess a shotgun, despite having been convicted of several prior felonies. The felonies included bank robbery in Illinois, two convictions of being a felon in possession of a firearm and one conviction for residential burglary, all from Arkansas.


Regarding those convictions, Sterling, who grew up in Pine Bluff before moving to Chicago, said he was convicted of burglary in 1997 because he was helping a friend take items out of a girlfriend’s apartment, and agreed to probation in that case.


He said he worked as a nurse at hospital in Little Rock and in Romance, Ark., for many years and because he was traveling at night and in wooded areas, he bought two guns for protection.


"I was pulled over one time but because I was a nurse, they didn’t search my car," Sterling said. "My lawyer told me I needed to get rid of them so I sold them at a pawn shop. I didn’t know the police checked the pawn shops so that’s how I got those charges."


As far as the bank robbery, which Sterling said was "the only real crime I ever committed," he said after a law was passed that convicted felons could not obtain nurses licenses, he was not able to renew his and moved back to Chicago where he became homeless.


"I wrote a note and robbed a bank," he said. "I was sentenced to five years in prison and that changed my life. I went back to my art and created my art and my non-profit foundation because I wanted to give back to the community."


Sterling was arrested when agents of the Federal Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives division served a search warrant at his house in the 1100 block of South Olive Street on Oct. 14, 2014.


A shotgun that Sterling claimed belonged to his mother was found in the house when the warrant was served.


During opening statements of the state trial Monday, Chief Deputy Prosecutor Wayne Juneau said the two girls, who were minors at the time, were traveling south on Olive Street after leaving the high school when Sterling, who was driving a limo, cut in front of them while turning into his driveway, almost causing an accident.


Sterling then got out of the vehicle and pointed a shotgun with a black barrel and brown stock at the girls before he and his wife ran to the back of the house, then he got back in the limo and drove away, prosecutors said. The limo was stopped a few minutes later, but no gun was found.


Juneau and Deputy Prosecutor Jill Reed represented the state while Little Rock attorney Rob Berry represented Sterling, who did not testify during the penalty phase of the trial.


In his opening statements, Berry asked the jury to pay close attention to the evidence presented, saying there was no shotgun during the altercation with the two girls, and a gun was only found weeks later when Sterling’s house was searched.


Berry said the police department "doesn’t like" Sterling and turned a "blind eye" to the evidence during their investigation. He was also critical of members of the prosecutor’s office "who wanted to convict The Nimrod Sterling for a variety of reasons."


Sterling said Wednesday he is due to be released from federal prison in 2019, but added that there are "some things working and I might get out in 2017."


"Regardless of when I get out, I’m coming back to Pine Bluff and I’m going to run for mayor in 2020," he said. "I’m going to make changes in Pine Bluff and get it going."