After closing time , just as the employees were beginning to exit the store , three men barged in , yelling . The big guy in front waved a gun and the fourteen employees pushed back into the store . They were ordered to strip to their underwear and were herded into the employee restroom . They were told to stand against the wall and to not look at the intruders .
Two women employees were in an adjacent locker room when the men entered . One of them managed to call her husband on her cell phone . She told him to call the police . The two were quickly discovered and brought to the restroom . One had a knife put to the back of her neck and her life was threatened . ” Did you make a call ? ” She denied it .
One of the employees was identified as the one person who knew the combination to the store safe and she was taken to the room where the safe was . Another woman was taken from the restroom and escorted to what was called the Loss Prevention (LP) room , where the store surveillance monitors were housed . Later , she returned to the restroom , telling the others that she had been raped .
The big guy who entered first , holding a gun , was photographed from various angles by store cameras . He wasn’t wearing a mask . His two partners were .
Each of these birds sat with a lawyer in court . The lawyers for the two defendants each claimed that his and her client had nothing to do with the crime . They weren’t even there . One was the brother of the big guy . The other was the boyfriend of a sister of the two brothers . ” Didn’t hang out with them ; didn’t even know them ,” the boyfriend’s lawyer said .
Okay . The burden of proof is on the District Attorney . I was not impressed with her questioning of potential jurors . There were lots of ” You guys ( meaning the jury ) ” and confusing statements . But , later , her opening statement was right -on . She concisely outlined the evidence against these three guys .
The big guy was being accused of rape , by the way . The woman he took to the LP Room claimed rape . There was surveillance camera evidence. There was DNA evidence . There was her testimony . A related charge was kidnapping , because he had taken her to another location to further his crime . They were all accused of armed robbery .
The big guy’s lawyer , in his opening statement , conceded to the robbery , but not to the rape . The big plan , he said , had been cooked up with that woman to fake a rape and to make millions from a lawsuit against the store .
I went in with an open mind . I would consider whatever evidence would be presented and try to make a fair determination . Since I was the third alternate juror , I guessed that I wouldn’t be participating in the final deliberations . That was good , in a way , because I wouldn’t have the responsibility on my shoulders for the fate of these guys . On the other hand , I would be listening and taking notes the whole time as if I would be taking part in the deliberations , so I was sorry , in a way , to be left out of the final decision .
Well , to make a long story short , the D.A. presented overwhelming evidence , and the three defendants were all convicted . They had been calling one another , during the robbery , on cell phones . There was at least one store surveillance photo of one of the guys holding a flip-phone in one hand and a gun in the other . The police had phone records and an FBI expert identified the location of the calls at those exact times as having been made in or near the store . They had all used phones registered in their names .
When the robbers escaped , a cop spotted their getaway vehicle . The robbers stole personal items from the employees as well as having got about $15,000 from the safe . They stole a couple of cell phones . The police tracked the exact GPS location of one of the stolen cells and , that way , found the abandoned getaway vehicle soon after the robbery , which had the cell phone inside , and masks , and gloves , and fingerprints , and DNA of the three who would be the three defendants sitting in court . The vehicle belonged to the niece of the two brothers . The boyfriend had been arrested near the vehicle awhile after the vehicle had been found by the police . A gun was found nearby , tossed in the dirt . It was registered to the big guy .
The brother of the big guy was arrested at his apartment a few miles away two days after the robbery . His DNA had been on a mask found in the vehicle . When arrested he had about $9000 in his apartment . Some of it was stuck under the carpet . There were receipts , too , from clothing stores and sporting goods stores. He had gone on a shopping spree the day before , a day after the robbery . Despite his mask , two of the fourteen employees had identified him as one of the robbers .
Okay . What about the rape ? The big guy took the stand in his own defense . He said that he had told his two companions not to rob the employees , because the goal was bigger . He claimed , at first , to have never pointed a gun at anyone . When cross-examined by the DA however , faced with clear photographic evidence to the contrary and with the testimony of fourteen victims , he backed down from that absurdity . But , where had he met the woman who supposedly had cooked up this scheme with him ?
He claimed to have met her ten days before the crime for the first time , by chance , in a pizza parlor near the store . She said that she worked at the store . He said that he had worked there years before in security . He had joked with her about robbing the store , he said , but she had taken him seriously . They met three more times , developing a robbery plan , but did most of the planning over the phone . It was his plan , he said , to fake a rape and have her sue for big money . He would coach her what to say . That was the plan .
The DA grilled him a little bit about that part of the plan , that he would coach the woman what to say to the store people . ” How to lie to them ” , the DA suggested . The irony of that implication seemed to be lost on the big guy and his lawyer . He had four phones at the time of the robbery . One was a Sprint phone in his name . The others were what are called ” burn phones “. One of the burn phones had all the phone records involving the woman , he said . He had dropped that phone in the store , he said , but the phone was never recovered . The clear implication was that the police had the phone but were not sharing it with the Defense . There were other inconsistencies with his testimony .
There were several counts for each defendant . It took the court clerk forty-five minutes to read through them all . ” We the jury , find ………………………..to be true .” In other words : guilty , guilty , guilty, guilty………. There had , apparently , been one or two holdouts on the jury , persons not convinced about the rape .The jury foreman told me later that two of the six rape counts had been determined ” not true ” , as a result . Evidently it had been a tough time in the jury room during the nine hours that it took to agree on the verdicts .
These guys will be going away for awhile , and the big guy for a long long time . I suspect that he’s been watching too many movies . Or , maybe it’s his lawyer who has . Now that the big guy has the time , though , he might try watching or reading THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE , or DOUBLE INDEMNITY . The characters might seem oddly familiar . The main character , who thinks it’s his plan , finally wises up when he gets double -crossed by the dame . It works in fiction .